Archives for category: Of Concern

ote:  Esther:  My husband died November 2014, and I faded out of my SorryGnatWorldCitizen blog; I am still a sorry gnat on the spiritual path of becoming a giant eagle, but measurement of who I am these days is not my quest.  I am still connected to TC, a privilege I feel, and am posting her latest newsletter.  I noticed in the LA Times today, someone got 23 years for murder, and TC and her mom, have been in prison for ever; her stepfather abused her forever, but she and her mom, Barbara, didn’t receive battered woman status.  Prayers are the best thing when all seems hopeless.  She’s spunky, and is amazing I think.

The Uncaged Voice

4th QTR, November 2015

Dear Family of Friends,Has it really been nearly a year since last Christmas? They say that time flies when you‘re aving fun. I reckon it also flies when you‘re not counting the days, but instead, counting your blessings. We have more than we can count, and then very recently, had one that is the equivelent of the cherry on top. I‘m referring to the attorney and law professor that agreed to defend Mom‘s case pro bono! Who said that lightning doesn‘t strike twice? We beg to differ. This is Mom‘s second pro bono attorney, but technically, it is the third one to look at the case on her behalf. We believe this third time is a charm, and well, things are looking up!

This is the season of gratitude, and hopefully more love and humanity, and less violence. This is when people stop to actually focus deeply on what they have, more than on what they do not. What we are most grateful for is all of the family of friends who embrace us from across the miles with a letter in the mail. We are so blessed to have such angels in our lives, and we can never thank you enough. That connection to the free world makes all the difference. Each one of you, in r own way, makes a world of difference.

Thank you so very, very much.Love, Peace, and Light,TC and Mama ‚P‘

Prison Lingo

For those in the free world, you may sometimes be a little unclear on what we‘re talking about if we don’t explain our prison lingo. We usually do explain our use of such slang or shorthand but there are times when we are simply on a roll in our letter and neglect to be more informative. So here’s a little Prison Lingo 101.

BPH: Board of Parole Hearings, a.k.a. The Parole Board. When I say I’ll waive my BPH for two years, I mean I will request to not hold my parole hearing for two years.

ADA: It could mean Assistant District Attorney or Americans With Disabilities Act, depending in the context.

AD-SEG: Administrative Segregation, or The Hole.

805: The building number for the infirmary.

OTC: Out to court; transferred back to county jail.

OTM: Out to medical; transported to medical office or facility in the local community for treatment.

C/O: Correctional officer.

I/M: Inmate, as in I/M Paulinkonis

C/C: A double classification called “c-over-c” – basically punishment status for the I/M‘s who don‘t want to work, keep testing dirty for drugs, or are habitual behavioral problems for staff.

LTOPP: Long Term Offender Pilot Program. It is provided to I/M lifers 2-3 years prior to next BPH hearing           

Q & A with T.C.

 Q) Why waive your BPH for 2-3 more years? Couldn‘t you do more for Mom from the outside if paroled?

A) Everyone believes that, but I have carefully evaluated the facts, options, and worst case scenario. I can do more for Mom once I go OTC to begin a new trial. There is evidence that we haven’t openly discussed in letters on this format, but please people, I know what I’m doing. Everyon’‘s hearts are in the right place and so is mine. Once I am released, I’d never be truly free until my mother is released too. A new trial means new evidence and exposure of exculpatory facts that BPH and the DA hid for years. Parole is not an option.

Q) But, wouldn’t you have more benefits on parole?

A) Yes, That and a lifetime leash. My being paroled does not help Mom. If it doesn’t help Mom, it’s not an option.

Q) Okay, so what are your options, released without parole?

A) The short answer is that I’ve done a lot of research. I have sent out inquiries, many not acknowledged with the courtesy of a response. The good news is that I found a re-entry for only seniors aged 50 and over. Being that we are fed up with Romper Room on drugs around here, we’d love a place strictly for real adults. I wrote the Executive Director and await a response.                                                        * *   

A.R.C.‘s Ride Home Program

The Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) is formed of mostly formerly incarcerated people. ARC sends ex-felons to California state prisons to pick-up long-termer parolees on their release date. Long termers are people who’ve served ten or more years while the outside word has changed. ARC reduces culture shock.

I read about ARC in The New York Times Magazine and I agree that such a program needs to exist. The parolee is met at the prison release area by a couple of guys, ex-cons themselves, who offer the parolee a cell phone to call home, and a ride to a restaurant where they can be served a hot meal without having to stand in a line to get it, or be threatened if they get up out of their seat until told it’s time to leave. For the long termer, that goes against the conditioned behavior that has been instilled in them for years, day after day. They need to relearn life, free and in public, and ARC is there to help them do just that.

The two-man team of ARC drivers take the parolee to the DMV to get a photo I.D. card, and to a nearby department store to get new clothes. The parolee doesn‘t have to touch the $200 gate money they were given. ARC gradually inches the parolee back into the free world during the day trip, before dropping them off at their destination, usually a re-entry program.

This ride home program is currently only for male drivers to pick-up male parolees. That led me to ask why not a female driver to pick-up female parolees? And the light grew brighter! I am in the process of contacting an attorney who is one of the ARC board members who was responsible for helping all non-violent Third Striker inmates released in the aftermath of 2012 changes in law. I want to ask him that question, but more importantly, I want to ask why not me? He teaches law at Stanford University, and well, why not me? Why not a ride home or to a re-entry facility for women who’ve been locked away while engineers taught cars to drive themselves? It’s a whole new world out there and women need reduced culture shock too. Where I see a need I see a purpose. Time for some equality. I am woman – hear me roar!

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Beauty Tips by Audrey Hepburn

Ms. Hepburn wrote this piece when asked to share her own beauty tips. It was read years later at her funeral. Thank you to Carol Rischette for sharing with us, now we can share with others. Here are words to live by.

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.            For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.            For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.            For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.            For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others

tear

Army of Woman await their men’s return from Baghdad

Troop Day by Sally M. McNeil (USMC)

Troop Day was held at CCWF on 10 Oct 15 by the Veterans Support Group (VSG) and Dependents Support Group (DSG). It was planned many months in advance, and my day began at 0500 hours.

VSG and DSG planned Troop Day to honor the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars). We planned a PFT (Physical Fitness Training) for the women who wanted to participate. Think Boot Camp. Each participant had to complete as many push-ups and sit-ups as they could in two minute test times each. Once that was done, they took to the track for a two mile run, seeking their personal best. Some struggled on the PFT, and some plowed through it like the warriors they could have been.

The PFT is meant to keep soldiers conditioned and physically fit to withstand going to war, in the deserts of the Middle East, jungles of Vietnam, or the mountains of Afghanistan. It takes endurance to fight in a war. They don’t cancel a war because it’s a scorching 133°F or a chilling -22°F. Wars are fought seven days a week for 24 hours a day. Holidays are not observed or honored by the enemy. They‘ll attack when we’re not ready, so you have to have three shifts a day for 24 hours of surveillance. It is the assurance that the enemy cannot sneak up and attack at the dawn of a day.

Conditioning is important along with support from the American people. As prisoners, we may be incarcerated, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that we still love our country and are proud of the branch of service that we represent and served in.

I was in the United States Marine Corps for 11 years. I served my country honorably, and CDCR can never take that away from me. Being a Marine prepared me to endure 20 years of imprisonment. I‘ve kept myself conditioned and do my time like a prisoner of war. I will survive my incarceration due to my military discipline and training.

I am a Three Blue Star Mom. All three of my children have been to war. My son, John Jr., is a Green Beret who has been to Afghanistan three times. My daughter has been to both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She had to leave her son with my niece as she went off to honorably fight for our country. My children were welcomed back with wonderful greetings from the press. However, that did not happen for my three uncles who fought in the Vietnam War. Because of this, I painted a yellow ribbon to respectully welcome back all Vietnam veterans. The back-drop of the ribbon was cammoflauge in an array of green, brown, black and beige. It was displayed in the gym during Troop Day for everyone to see … and reflect upon.

For me personally, Troop Day meant thanking the VFW‘s Vietnam vets. They were given a hard time when they returned from the war. I want to thank all of the veterans who did not receive a hearty welcome back home to their land of the e. God bless them, and God bless the U.S.A.Thank Veteran’s for Giving Day

It‘s not a day off of work or school to play video games or to finally reorganize your spice rack.

It‘s not just another day on the calendar. Veteran’s Day is a day of remembrance and gratitude. It’s a day to mourn the loss of lives cut down in their prime, or to have a sincere empathy for those still alive but forever changed. It’s a day to not take their personal sacrifices for granted.

Some came home but far too many didn’t. Sadly, there are those still fighting the battles in their minds. It isn’t like a bad day at the beach. It isn’t a forgotten memory. They remember. We need to remember them. Even if it is only to say a prayer, go on; God is listening. For those who can, visit woundedwarrior.org and give what you can. They need us.

Is it any wonder that in November, Thanksgiving falls just two weeks after Veteran’s Day? Let that be one of your reasons to celebrate – the service of our military personnel. They certainly deserve to be appreciated and remembered.

Ed. Note: Wounded Warrior has come under criticism for the limited amount of their funds that they spend to directly support veterans. Please consider researching other reliable organizations to send donations.

 

 

 

 

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… And I Am Grateful

 

Somewhere on the streets of Guatemala there is a ragged child who hasn’t eaten since yeasterday. The pain of their growling stomach is only one of several stages in starvation, something they know all too well.

Somewhere along the Ivory Coast, a man can feel the warmth of the day fade away, ebbing from daylight as the sun begins to set. He cannot see the blend of yellow and orange hues that paint the sky, his vision long gone from wounds suffered in a bloody civil war.

Reading a discarded issue of National Geographic, I see the vivid reality of childen without shoes, I see someone who must carry heavy barrels of river water to their mud hut, I see faces of people who truly know what it is  to live a hard life.

And I feel grateful.

Somewhere, there’s a woman wrinkled by time who weeps over the ashes of a war that has taken good men from her family, and some grandchildren too.

In the ruins of Syria, innocent people trying to escape inevitable death by terrorism scrape together what little they have in order to seek a new life in Europe. Some cannot afford the life vests to protect their childen for the desperate sea voyage but they risk the challenge all the same. And children become another statistic taken by the sea – innocent and so young.

With tears in my eyes, I am grateful.

In many places across America there are people trapped by floods or hikers lost in the wilderness because they took a wrong turn. Perhaps a child sleeping on the couch is struck by a drive-by bullet and hangs on in the ICU. So much misfortune, so much pain, loss, and inhumanity. It all makes me that much more grateful to live the life I’m living.

I‘m not saying that I’d want to re-live my entire childhood or this prison experience all over again if I had the chance not to. But I cannot deny that both have made me more resilient for what lies ahead. My experience has given me a strength that I otherwise would not have. I am a better, stronger woman for the journey. It has introduced each of you into our lives, and we would not want to erase that. And with heartache, with life’s struggles, wounds and scars, character is born. I am a better daughter, friend, and confident for the entire experience.

And for all of that, I am grateful.

 

To Quote a TV Show 

One of the television shows I watch is Madam Secretary. On the October 25th episode, the daughter of the Secretary was caught up in a scandal. Apparently, she made the mistake of taking selfies of her boyfriend (The President’s son), and herself in bed. A former secret service agent out to avenge being fired took possession of the lost cell phone that held the photos and not only released one risky photo to the media but also threatened to release the rest if not paid handsomely not to. Once he was caught, the daughter of The Secretary wanted 15 minutes alone with the guy. Clearly, she had something to say.

The two were put in a room where she broke the ice by asking about his family. She asked questions about him. He answered politely, but then finally he said, “Look, I don’t know what you want from me.” She looked him in the eye and ever so calmly replied, “I just wanted to get to know you better. I didn’t want to reduce you to the one bad decision you had made.“ Something he had done to her.

I grabbed a pen and wrote those lines down. I love a good quote and this was enormous! Those words spoke volumes about each and every one of you who have met us only through the written word and not yet in person. It spoke directly to my heart. Thank you to each of you who took the time to get to know us better and did not reduce us to the one bad decision I made on New Year’s Eve, 1988. And thank you for letting us in return get to know yyou. Thank you.

From The Heart 

Years ago, I heard another quote but I cannot recall where I heard it. I only know that I wrote it down:

“What hurts us the most, that’s where we find our strength – that’s what keeps us going.” 

Words to live by.

Some of you tell me how impressed you are by my strength to carry on after all we’ve been through. Some are even more surprised at my tolerance and patience with the long, drawnout process of this appeal for a new trial. Many have told me that they’d have lost patience by now. So, how do I do it? What hurt me is what keeps me going. He’s not allowed to win every battle, even in death. My stepfather is not allowed to define my character by his own flaws.

First of all, I’m really in no big hurry to leave Mom here alone without me. I do have to leave at some point but I‘m not in a hurry. I’m on God’s timetable, not my own. If I had the choice to rush into court for a new trial clear back in say, 2005, I would not have been as ready as I am now, nor would I have the evidence that questions the DA’s integrity. So yes, God knew what He was doing all along. The DA thinks that they are running the show, but I know better.

I have the will to face down the dragon. I don’t know how to give up, so quitting was never an option. I kept the faith, allowed hope into my heart, ran with patience the race before me, and well, like the song says, “I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me.” I can relate deeply to the lirics in :Fight Song:”

Like a small boat, on the ocean            Sending big waves, into motion            Like how a single word, can make a heart open            I may only have one match, but I’ll make an explosion            This is my fight Song, take back my life song            Prove I’m alright song, my power’s turned on            I don’t care what no one else believes –            I still got a lot of fight left in me!

So, I say from the heart to you – my strength come from a power greater than myself. My willingness to face demons from the past and ressurecting old ghosts is all part of doing what this girl has got to do. And yes, it would be a badge of honor to hear them say, “You fight like a girl.” Your darn right I do. Right into the New Year and beyond! Its’ time to fight lik a girl!

Happy Christmas & New Year,TC and Mama P

Teresa Paulinkonis                                                                  Pauline (Barbara) Paulinkonis

W45118     513-5-3U                                                             W45120     513-5-3L.O. Box 1508                                                             P.O. Box 1508

Chowchilla, CA 93610                                                           Chowchilla, CA 93610

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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imagesCAUFKWM11359165214-protest-at-holloway-prison-supports-women-prisoners-rights_1750354The Uncaged Voice
4th QTR, 2013
Available free upon request at: elayneclift@gmail.com

Dear Family and Friends:
So much has happened this year, the fourth quarter is already here! We have been grateful for every blessing, and each of you is counted twice. Thank you for joining us on this journey of hope, faith, change, and personal growth.
In this issue, we asked a few inmates to write about their personal journey, with emphasis on the positive. We are very grateful for their willingness to be honest and forthcoming, using this forum as a stage to share from. One woman in particular requested that her identity be confidential, and as always, I will honor that.
I understand that many have questions about how my parole hearing with the BPH went on September 11th so I wrote a summary report that I hope makes the realities of that experience absolutely clear. It would not be clear without a little history that led to the decision; therefore, I included that, as not all readers have been privy to the facts.
As always, we hope this edition finds you doing well, safe from harm, and embracing each day as the gift that it is. We are grateful for your support, and ask that you continue to share this publication in any way available to you, even on Facebook, blogs, etc. Knowledge is to be shared. Each writer is a living testimony, as they too celebrate their uncaged voice.
Namaste,
TC & Mama P
SB-260 Update
When California Senator Loni Hancock introduced the Senate bill, SB-260, in March 2013, she knew it would be a battle. The bill recognized that juvenile offenders differ from adult offenders, mainly due to the lack of brain maturation. Hancock pushed this bill because she believed in experts like Lawrence Steinberg and advocates such as Human Rights Watch, who were speaking out about the barbarism in sentencing youth under the age of 18 to lengthy life sentences in adult prisons. I’ll refer to them as JOSAA.
SB-260 passed on May 20, 2013 by a vote of 27:11, and again on July 2, 2013 in the Public Safety Committee by a 4:2 vote. Whew! The big vote on September 6, 2013 by Assembly members was 51:21 in favor of passage. We’re happy to report that Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill on September 16, 2013.
This does not mean that all juvenile offenders will automatically be released. It simply means that there will be an opportunity to be found suitable sooner than they would have using the adult matrix set term protocol. The matrix is determined by case factors. So far this is what we know:
• Any JOSAA with 15 years or more will be eligible for parole after 15 years, but only by a special BPH panel.
• Those serving life sentences will be eligible after having served the base term of their actual crime; this means minus the enhancements that got stacked on top.
• Adults don’t begin life term until they enter state prison, which means county time does not really count at first until after found suitable. JOSAAs will begin their life sentence or determinate term from the day of initial arrest and incarceration. All time credit counts.
o Example: A 16 year old, sentenced to 25 years-to-life for homicide, plus an additional 10 years for a gun enhancement, is received in prison in 1998. Her time begins at arrest in 1996, with the 20 year base of the life term, minus the enhancement. In other words, she is eligible for parole in 2016 instead of 2028.
For more information on SB-260 go to http://www.hrw.org or call Elizabeth Calvin: 310-477-5540. Thank you so much for all of your support in passage of this vital bill. Everyone who helped made the difference. Thank you!
Not Everything About Prison is Negative, by Cora Murry
My story begins on August 3, 2003 when I arrived at prison a very angry person. When I was sentenced to 24 years, I thought it was the end of the world. It seemed like a lifetime away. I had only one thought and that was to make a name for myself behind these walls. Fighting was an outlet for my anger until my dear friend, Shawn, reprimanded me. She bluntly got my attention with “Cora, you’re not going to succeed like that! What about our plans?” At that moment, the light came on. It was clear that if I was going to make it in here I wouldn’t get very far by fighting. From that day forward I managed more control over my emotions and began planning for my future.
About eight months later I obtained a job on the yard crew. I performed my duties so well that I was recommended for a seamstress job at my facility yard clothing room. All I knew about sewing was what little I had gained from watching my mother years earlier. However, I accepted the job offer to stay on course with reaching my ultimate goal of working at Joint Venture. In order to achieve that goal I needed to build a strong resume. I was hired as the clothing room seamstress.
After doing well in that job for six months I applied for a position at PIA Fabric, a warehouse setting very similar to the 1920s sweatshops. I was quickly hired but the position required that I move from B-yard to C-yard, leaving the very peers who had mentored me to that point. It was scary relocating like that, but I adapted to new people, roommates, and the yard change in general. If nothing else, prison forces adaptation and you can either resist or go with it, and in this case, it was a new path toward my goal. I left the seamstress job at $36/month for the PIA job at $75/month. My goal at that time was to receive my five cent an hour raises every three months in order to raise my earnings to upwards of $100/month. Given all of the overtime and Saturdays that I worked I was well on my way.
I added being a WAC member to my responsibilities. WAC stands for Women’s Advisory Council. I became a voice for the women who couldn’t, or simply did not know how, to speak up for their prison rights. I spent one year doing this, keeping myself busy with as many positive activities as possible. Life was good by prison standards – until May 5, 2004.
I had done well for myself and was reaching goal after goal. Then I received the call that every prisoner fears, which is to report to your counselor’s office for a personal phone call. That was the day that my family informed me that my beloved mother, Alma Murry, had passed away. My flame began to flicker as I felt the oxygen leave my body. I had never been more crushed. I cried for three straight days in my solitude of bereavement, and then I knew that I had to make a decision. I could pick myself up and move forward or rebel in my pain, losing my job while other inmates waited to fill my position. I did exactly what my mother would have wanted me to do: I pushed forward, refocusing on my goal anew. I didn’t quit.
Exactly one year later, on the anniversary of my mother’s death, I was hired at my prison dream job: Allwire Electric Company, operated under the prison title of Joint Venture. I had made it! I went from one goal to the next until I reached my then ultimate goal. I started at the legal minimum wage as opposed to pennies on the dollar and did well for three years until 2008, when 15 others and I were laid off due to reduced work production. Still, I’m grateful for all that I learned.
My next goal is to be hired at PIA Dental. I earned my GED on August 5, 2013 and now intend to pursue my AA degree. It hasn’t been easy but I’m living proof that hard work and dedication does hold priceless rewards. In sharing my story, I hope my message is loud and clear: a lot of positive things can be achieved in life, even in a place like prison. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved thus far, but I’m still a work-in-progress. You can do anything you set your mind to, and like me, you too can be your own success story.
What Happened?!?
There are a good many of our friends scratching their heads, trying to wrap their brains around what happened at my parole suitability hearing on September 11, 2013. Given my positive prison record and impressive C-file, many cannot grasp the idea that not only was I denied parole for three more years, but that I asked the panel to permit me to stipulate to such a decision. I will do my best to explain how that sort of thing happens.
First, we need to time travel backwards to the year 2005 when my first suitability hearing was held. Prior to any hearing, all lifers must submit to a psychological evaluation that not only digs into their past but assesses their risk for recidivism likelihood. The BPH relies on these reports, providing them with the professional opinion of a licensed psychologist, which carries a lot of weight in that room. I had 602’d the report for its inaccurate assumptions and biased declarations that I have since proven false, but my 2005 hearing was held with that 2005 analysis used heavily against me. I learned something that year: I learned to fight lies with real evidence. But, what lies?
My interview with Dr. Hartung had lasted all of 45 minutes, with three phone call interruptions, one of which was so private he had me step out of the room for about seven minutes. I had answered questions about my childhood including the ugly truth of abuse. I explained how when I was five years old I was a chronic bed-wetter and my parents had me see a doctor to fix the problem. I told him, “They scheduled me for surgery. A surgery that was not necessary, because I didn’t have a bladder problem; I was wetting the bed on purpose to keep my stepfather out of it. The smell of urine appalled him, so even at five years old I had figured out a way to protect myself.”
In his report, however, Dr. Hartung had said that I had completely fabricated the story about the surgery. He wrote that not only is such a surgery for chronic bed-wetting unheard of at such a young age, but that I was narcissistic to think that I could manipulate him into believing the story of a conspiracy against me by my parents and the doctor for this unnecessary surgery. I never said it was unnecessary in the cruel sense of a conspiracy. I said it was unnecessary because I was wetting the bed on purpose to keep my stepfather out of it.
Oh, it gets better.
During our interview, on at least three occasions, he asked me if I had ever set fires or tortured animals. I was annoyed when he asked the third time. I’m in prison for killing my stepfather, yes, but I’m not a serial killer, for Pete’s sake! However, in the printed report, the good doctor based part of his claim that I lied about the sexual abuse on the fact that I had denied being an arsonist or sadist. I was raised to respect other people’s property and everyone knows I love animals. I don’t know what textbook he got his theory from, but not all incest and rape survivors resort to arson and sadistic acts of animal torture.
In a nutshell, he called me a sociopathic, narcissistic, antisocial liar without empathy or remorse. He called me a freakin’ liar! I was so outraged to have my voice shoved to a dark corner like that I decided to put that anger to good use. Instead of acting out, I responded with a mission to prove that Dr. Hartung’s report wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. I had to find the evidence, so I wrote every hospital in the Bay area until I obtained my medical records, and I had the proof staring me in the face. I not only had records of what led up to the surgery and the surgery itself, but other medical records that, had my trial attorney done this research before the 1992 trial, the jury would have had an entirely different perspective. Armed with those documents, I was actually grateful that Dr. Hartung set my anger on fire because it sent me into action. No survivor likes to be called a liar. As a matter of fact, it is that very fear that prevents most victims from speaking out. It takes guts and raw courage to speak up and it is almost condemning to not be believed when you do. Thank God I was already ten years into my recovery when that happened; otherwise I may have just shut down. However, I had found my voice. I didn’t shut down. And I didn’t shut up.
In 2008 I had a roommate named Echo who advised me that I could put a free ad in the Craig’s List website to draw attention to our case. We certainly couldn’t afford legal counsel so I thought, why not place an ad? I asked Steve and Carolyn to place the ad for me and they did, using their email address for responses. There were several hits which eventually led to my mother and I both gaining pro bono legal representation.
In 2009 I was scheduled for my subsequent parole suitability hearing, therefore [sent] to see a psychologist to perform a new assessment analysis report. I explained that I had legal representation that was putting together a Writ of Habeas Corpus and that I had already waived my 2009 BPH hearing because of this. He agreed that holding the lengthy interview would be irrelevant if I was not holding my hearing and also seeking to go back to court. He excused me from the interview, then once I left he proceeded to evaluate me without my being present. He used the 2005 report as his test subject instead of using me for that purpose. If that is not illegal, it should, at the very least, be deemed unethical. In essence, the 2005 report was still haunting me.
Fast forward now to 2013. I had to tell you all of that in order for what I’m about to tell you to make sense. When changes were made to BPH policy after passage of Marsy’s Law, it was determined that all psychological evaluations of lifers up for parole would carry a shelf-life of five years. The 2009 report is still valid until about 3rd quarter, 2014.
Due to the unethical nature of the 2009 report, my state-appointed legal counsel, Michele Garfinkel, requested of the panel that I be allowed to postpone my hearing so that I can be re-evaluated for a fair and impartial hearing. The panel denied that request. Michele then asked to speak to me privately to review my options, which we did.
Okay, I could go forward with this hearing using that foul report full of false accusations and risk what could have amounted to about a five year denial of parole. Michele, however, patiently explained the benefits of option #2 which was clearly in my best interest. I chose to stipulate to the minimum denial of parole which was three years. By doing so, I could wait out the shelf-life of the 2009 report and then take my medical records and evidence of abuse into an entirely new interview process for a new evaluation. That should help nip presumed assumptions of sociopathic lying. Well, I’m hoping that seeing the proof will make a difference. After a year I can file a 1045A formal request to have my next hearing held prior to the three year wait. Yes, in other words, I still obtained a postponement to obtain a new evaluation, but we’re calling it a three year stipulation of denial of parole. It’s just part of the political process. Had I faced the panel with the warped 2004 report it certainly would have been freedom suicide. This is not a matter of manipulating the system. I see it as a matter of using their written policy as a means to pursue my path to freedom, even if it requires that I file extra paperwork in order to do so.
I’m very satisfied with my decision and definitely grateful to Michele for her careful explanation of the law and my legal options. She says she does BPH law because she believes in the process. Her demeanor and professionalism was evident that those were not just words. Any lifers interested in a competent and caring BPH attorney, contact Michele Garfinkel, 1611 S Street, Suite 202, Sacramento, CA 95811.
There’s Nothing Funny About It
While it is true that the California state prison system has become a warehousing debt maker to hold inmates bulging at the seams, it has also warehoused the mentally ill. With the closures of many of the psychiatric hospitals, those patients need to be placed somewhere to obtain the help they need. They are being housed in prison, where they may not necessarily receive the medical attention that they need. Budget cuts have decreased the available staff and options for the mentally ill are limited.
Inmates who hear voices walk the grounds here, arguing and socializing with those voices. Those of us who cannot hear their voices are clueless as to what they are going through. There is nothing funny about an individual who is struggling on the brink of sanity and insanity. However, there are those who point, laugh, and even mimic the women devoured by inner demons in a fight for control. It is sad. It is preventable. It is inappropriately on display to be ridiculed by those who are fortunate not to be one of the mentally ill, lost in a wasteland of voices and finger-pointing. It is a lot of things, but funny it is not.
I learned that prison has a pill-popping policy that is their answer to everything. Now mind you, I can grasp that in some cases people need a pill for this or that. In 1995 I was having trouble sleeping. I was battling my own demons of the past. The staff here in white jackets wanted to give me Elavil, a psychotropic medication. A mood changer. I didn’t need a pill, I needed to talk. However, being overworked and understaffed, they would rather give you a pill and send you on your way. Since I refused pills to numb my pain they removed me from the list to be seen. By the way, the guy who did that was eventually walked off the job for inappropriate sexual behavior with a patient. Need I say more?
There are a good many individuals who are doing well with the use of medications but what about the ones on the walkway who argue loudly with the voices in their heads? The ones who officers walk right past? The ones who are getting the short end of the stick? They don’t belong in prison. They belong somewhere where they can receive help. Real help.
CCWF has a policy in place called EOP – Enhanced Outpatient Program. There is a unit in the receiving yard that houses those not ready for assimilation into the general population of inmates. There are rooms in each of the general population units that have “step-up” rooms. They are called that as a means of stepping up [or transitioning] from EOP. If the women can’t make it there they are returned to EOP. What is sad is that there are many who really aren’t making it as opposed to barely hanging in there. Since these step-up rooms are in G.P., we are all mingled together. If the EOP/Step Up inmate attacks one of us, they get a pass. No repercussions because they are deemed mentally ill. If we defend ourselves we can get a write-up. So not only are they vulnerable in this situation, but we are as well.
There are a lot of things broken in the penal system, but especially at the level of incarceration. There are people who do belong here, most certainly, but there are way too many who should be in a different environment. Definitely not criminal isolation. So when you are saying your prayers, add one for the mentally ill prison population. Someone needs to care about them, and if it’s not the system, it needs to be us.
When You Complain, You Remain by Niki Martinez
Who among us just gets frustrated and walks around saying, “I hate this place!” or “I’m sick of being here!”? We all have those days. And it puts you in a crappy mood. But I need to remind you: when you complain, you remain! It tends to set the tone for your day, your attitude and your perspective. It is so easy to get caught up in the mentality of “I hate it here.” But what we need to realize is that it could always be worse. When we change our perspective, we change our attitude, and when we change our attitude, it affects our lives! Why walk around feeling crappy, making life worse than it has to be, because we choose to? We have to know what thoughts to ignore, and respectfully, what people to ignore.
Too many people are negative and discouraged because they don’t like where they are. It’s just not where they want to be. They missed the unlock, their roommate locked them out, they’re stuck at the gate, they want in, they want out, they can’t wait for the door to open to go program, they get to work and they’re still irritated. They want to shop, they come back and they’re mad about being locked out and not getting this or that! They are always fighting against something. They are always trying to be somewhere else. We really need to begin to understand that change begins in us, not in our circumstances. The wrong attitude will keep us right where we are! So often, we find ourselves fighting our way to happiness, thinking it’s some sort of destination. We’re always trying to reach somewhere else and then we will be happy. “Once I shop, I’ll be happy.” “If I could just move then I’d be happy.” “If I had that other job, if I could move off this yard…” Or the bigger one that all of us are so convinced of: “If I could just get out of this prison, then I’d be happy.”
When we think of it like that, it only holds us back from our own happiness. A better approach is “This is where God has me right now and until He moves me, I’ll be happy right now, right here.” It is our choice. Our happiness doesn’t involve our circumstances or our place of residence, it involves our perspective and our attitude. We have to be determined to enjoy our lives no matter where we are living them. And when we understand that God has us exactly where He wants us, and when we learn to be happy where we are, He will take us where we want to be.
If we want to see God open new doors, the key is to bloom right where we are planted. We cannot wait until everything becomes better before we decide to have a good attitude. We have to be the best we can be right where we are.
When we change our approach, slow down, and just enjoy the journey, or take in all the journey has to offer, we will arrive where we’re supposed to be, but our lives will be much more fulfilled. And then we will be blessed with the perspective that it was all worth it. Instead of looking at what w don’t have, be grateful for what we do have. Somebody in this world would gladly trade places with us. Somebody would love to able to breathe like us, or be able to walk like us or see like us. Somebody would love to living where we are living.
Complaining only delays better days.

Choices by Christina Francis
Life is about choices- good and bad, positive and negative – and the consequences of actions taken because of the choices we make. My own choices led to my being a juvenile offender sentences as an adult. I entered State prison only three months after turning 17 years old. At that time I was the youngest person housed at CCWF, not exactly the claim to fame one strives to reach. I was instantly defined as a lost cause and led to believe that this was true. My truth. Not knowing any better, I embraced that [stigmata]; that is how I began serving my life sentence.
Through many trials and tribulations, today I now know that this is not true. That it need not be my legacy. I’ve learned in my own way to turn that around and to re-evaluate my views and values. Incarceration really is the biggest time out ever. It has brought me face to face with the here and now. Although I am separated from the outside world, prison has offered me the grand opportunity to stop and think about the natural flow of life, and to reflect on my place in it.
It has not been easy to grow up in a women’s prison. To be raised in such a volatile and angry environment. My vision, hope and faith were distorted by the daily madness; I simply let it envelop me and became a part of it. I somehow settled it in my mind that not only would this be where I will die, but that I was okay with such a desolate reality.
Over the years, however, that 17 year old kid has grown up, and in that development process I forced myself to look deeper into my core issues. I did not do this alone, but with the help and support of good friends who had pure motives and who hoped to see me reach my true potential. It took time but I found that it really is possible to overcome challenges. It took all the super-human dedication and effort that I could muster, but I grew tall enough mentally to see over the mountains of what I perceived as impossible. I’m content with the struggles that I’ve encountered. In life, every struggle, every circumstance of pain and chaos is in itself a lesson in progress. I have gained wisdom and personal strength through this philosophy and it allows me to perceive and respond to things as they are.
Growth requires limitless courage and through the experiences that taught me that I now believe that anything is possible. Before I could ever take control and rebuild my life I needed a firm desire to make my wishes sincere and real in every way. The more progress I made, the closer I drew toward becoming a useful person with a purpose in life. I learned that making excuses for not growing and feeling sorry for myself and my predicament was wasted energy. The negative sources of stagnation that I surrounded myself with only delayed my growth process – time I can never get back. When I hear someone say that I never had half a chance, I hear a voice of knowing that says, “You create your own chances, or lack thereof.” And I know this is true. At least for me it is.
I am a true believer that an inner drive for growth will push you forward; I’m living witness to how you can conquer many obstacles by demanding such commitment to personal growth. Being incarcerated, I have little control over many aspects of institutional life, but I have control over myself, how I see things, and most certainly, how I react to all of it. We can choose to advance or sit in our self-pity and rot. The choice is ours. As for myself, I keep putting one foot in front of the other and progressing forward. Doing so has made all the difference. A difference I now embrace.

I Saw God Today by Patti Garrison
I saw God today,
In the sunrise;
Beautiful hues of pink and purple,
Brush strokes in the clouds;
Painted by a master painter.
Yes, I saw God today,
And I can tell you, He is beautiful.

I saw God today,
In the forest;
Awed by the majestic trees,
Which have stood against
Winds and storms, yet stand proud.
Yes, I saw God today,
And I can tell you, He is strong.

I saw God today,
In the eyes of a man;
He rises early to feed the hungry,
And help the needy,
His only reason being that help is needed.
Yes, I saw God today,
And I can tell you, He is kind.

I saw God today,
In the actions of a woman;
She stopped to help a homeless man.
She extended her hand and he was hesitant,
Until he saw her smile.
Yes, I saw God today,
And I can tell you, He is compassionate.

I heard God today,
In the laughter of a child;
So pure and sweet,
Filling the air,
With happiness and innocence.
Yes, I saw god today,
And I can tell you, He is joyous!

I thanked God today,
For allowing me to see and hear Him,
In the simple, yet beautiful everyday things,
Which surround us all,
If only we take the time to notice.
Yes, I thanked God today,
And I can tell you, I am blessed.

The Gift That Keeps on Giving by Strictly Anonymous
I, like anyone else, have a story to tell. I believe we are all the walking proof of our pasts. While my story may not be pretty, the truth is that for prisoners it never really is.
In high school I never really had very many friends. The jocks all thought they were gods, the cheerleaders were total snobs, and the in-crowd could see that I was more out than in. I felt like an outsider looking in to a world that didn’t care if I even existed. I felt alone in the world.
And then I met him. He made me feel like I mattered. He actually wanted my time, my attention, to hear my own thoughts; he even asked about my dreams. His name was Jeff. I was 16 years old and in the 11th grade. Jeff, however, was 21; he worked as a forklift operator at a large warehouse. He made money that he readily spent on me. I had never felt so special in all my life. For the first time, I felt loved.
Because of our ages we had to keep our relationship a secret. Even from my sister, who almost always knew what I was up to due to her snooping nature.
We had been dating for over a year when Jeff hit me for the first time. I never saw it coming. He kept it invisible to the peering world by leaving marks only where clothing hid the bruises. Somehow he had convinced me that it was my fault. That I made him so mad at me I had it coming. I actually believed that.
In a relationship like that things never get better. Ours got worse and when he realized he had gotten me pregnant, he expected me to get an abortion. Hiding the relationship was one thing, but hiding an abortion from my devout Catholic parents was a whole other idea. Jeff and I argued over this. I was 17 years old by then and he kept telling me how he could get in trouble if I didn’t get the abortion. The final straw was when he began to threaten that he’d kill the baby himself. I imagined his kicking me in the stomach. I agreed to the abortion to escape that sense of a beating. The next day I disappeared from his life.
Jeff couldn’t contact me at school and he couldn’t contact my family for fear of statutory rape charges. What he didn’t know was that I’d told my parents the truth. It was all I could think of to do. First I told my mother, then with my mother’s support, my father too. I went to live with my aunt in southern California and spent my son’s first two years under her roof. She was my saving grace. I was able to get a job and my GED with her help and daily encouragement. I made a life for myself in southern California and life was good. Jeff was only a memory.
When I was 24 years old, my son Dalton was six and in school. I was working at an office building that had a front desk with security personnel. One day I was called to come down from my office to see a visitor at the front desk. I was told his name: Jeff had found me. I felt my breath get trapped in my lungs. The walls were closing in. I couldn’t even speak for the first few seconds. Reluctantly, I agreed to meet him at the front desk, but I warned Perry, the security officer, on the phone, “This may not end well. Please stay nearby.” Perry assured me and I reported to the desk.
Well, this story actually did end well. Jeff asked me to sit on a couch in the lobby with him and he proceeded to tell me how he had found me. It wasn’t very hard; I had never changed my name. He assured me that he had grown up, changed his ways, and was a better man than the immature person I had left behind. He apologized and then he asked, “How is life? Tell me about the baby.” I told him he had a son. I gave him ten minutes, and then had to return to work, but agreed to meet him in a very public place – a restaurant. I showed him photos and literally let him see his son grow up in pictures. Our son. My intuition was that Jeff really had changed.
Although Jeff and I never got back together again, we were able to maintain a personal relationship of respect and I introduced him to Dalton. After about three months, Jeff relocated to southern California to be closer to his son. They have formed a beautiful bond and I am grateful for that. Had I held on to my anger, hatred and mistrust of Jeff, I would have robbed my son of the privilege of knowing his father. I chose to accept Jeff’s apology, and I truly forgave him. Once I did, I was freed from the past.
A few years ago, I took the law into my own hands against a coach, to protect Dalton. The law didn’t like my idea of a mother’s love and I was sentenced to 16 years in State prison. However, Jeff brings my son to see me twice a month and on holidays. My one act of forgiveness has come back to me over and over again.
When I began telling my story, you may not have expected this ending, but what it amounts to is this: Life is beautiful, even in prison.

Hey, Sports Fans!
Joe had tickets for the Super Bowl with a seat on the 50-yard line. As he sat down he noticed that the seat next to his was vacant. He asked the man on the other side if anyone was sitting there.
“No,” the man replied. “That seat is empty.”
“This is incredible!” Joe said. “Who in their right mind would have a seat like this for the Super bowl and not use it?”
The man looked up and said, “Well, it actually belongs to my wife but she passed away. This will be the first Super Bowl we haven’t been together since we married 23 years ago.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” said Joe. “Couldn’t you find a friend or relative or even a neighbor to take the seat?”
The man simply shrugged, saying, “No. They’re all at the funeral!”

From the Heart
I remember my first trip to Yosemite National Park in 1982 with a few of my co-worker friends. We drove late at night so didn’t see much scenery going through Mariposa. We couldn’t see much more than darkness around us beyond the bit of road in the headlights. It wasn’t until daybreak that we really saw the beauty of the valley floor. It was nearly intoxicating.
After checking in and locating our canvas tent cabins the four of us set about exploring the park. We headed straight for the tourist spot of the magical and fantastic Yosemite Falls. The way the mist kissed your face you knew you were somewhere special. I wasn’t the most religious person in the world and even I felt as if I’d been misted by God.
Garfield, Lynn and Lori were good company as we hiked up the fall, the slippery wet rocks beneath my boots. We could feel the change in altitude taking effect, the higher we went. I think it was my legs that felt the burn equal to what Garfield’s lungs did. That’ll teach her to smoke! Lori and I wanted to go up higher but Garfield couldn’t make it, and well, abandoning her wasn’t an option. We did make it to a high pool where we could sit on some boulders and just take it all in for a moment. It was absolutely magnificent. Here was clearly a landscape that paintings could not do justice to, for it was a creation not of man, but of a power greater than that.
In those few minutes before we trekked back down the falls I took it all in. I breathed it in. I soaked it up like a sponge and I have kept it all these years. It was one of those experiences that photos cannot convey but can only capture frozen in time. In those few minutes, I truly appreciated that I had the opportunity that not everyone does. I’ve met many women here that never had that chance. And every time that I do, I feel blessed all over again.
So I say from the heart to you: Don’t ever take anything for granted. Not your knowledge, mobility, senses, or next meal. Don’t take it for granted that you can breathe or talk or have clothing and clean water to drink. It is said that the best things in life aren’t things, but everything. I agree. When you struggle, it is part of your life’s blueprint, and even the butterfly must struggle out of the cocoon before it can fly. A woman goes through pain when her child is being born but she is grateful for the priceless gift. Stop and think about the people you haven’t spoken to or seen in awhile. Then tell them that you’re thinking of them. You just may make their day. Better yet, they are given the opportunity to make yours. Works for me. May you all have a safe, healthy, happy holiday season.
Love and Peace,
TC and Mama P
T.C. Paulinkonis Barbara Paulinkonis
W45118 (514-16-04U) W45120 (514-15-02L)
P.O. Box 1508 P.O. Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93610-1508 Chowchilla, CA 93610-1508

(In typing this newsletter, some minor edits were made for clarity. Words in brackets indicate that the handwritten version was unclear.)

EstherandElizabeth, 6 years old birthdayliz near end 1
Full of Days

I am old and full of days, and I know this because I get gift certificates in the mail, small bordered, blue; staccato messages to me approaching a distinctly marked age, as not like my twin’s age of 68 when her soul pierced the body’s shell and flew onward and upward, and when I had a feeling or wrote something like, “We will see each other once again -against the dark space and within the illumined lands of God, and we will remember our days as three year olds, sitting on tricycles of resplendent fire engine red and sturdy wheels, not yet aware of the rivets and tunnels we would face in our growth as twins and as souls, an intertwining of hate and love.

Fraternal twins. She from my father’s stock, the ones that produced fine men and maybe a sister or two who vaulted into business, and he, our father who was very much on earth, despaired at his life, the alcoholic wife, the kids like cartoon blocked figures with hair all over them, reminiscent of cave days, as witnessed by their teenage grunts from, “Where are you going?” and their toned and chanted response, emitting from their closed lips, “Out.” And indeed they went out.

The older girl, older in months; neighbors say they are all Irish twins, born within so many months of the other, tskk, tskkk. The older sister, yeah, you know the one who won the Margaret O’Brien Look Alike contest in Boston? Oh yeah her, she went out, out indeed.

She conceived a child as she melted into the arms of her teenage lover, the one who laughed and came from a poverty so cruel, and she was sent away to a home for pregnant girls, and all I can say is, “Thank God, she didn’t live in Ireland,” the Ireland of the Magdalene Sisters, in whose convent, young girls of impure type were housed in terror. For it was a time of sheer cement walls and slaves blending in, Irish girl slaves, those who might have had an impure thought or wrested themselves away from a pushy boy, or better yet, did the dirty deed and used the portion of her body referred to as “down there.”

Out also went the twins who by this time had finished throwing pitchforks and ice choppers at one another, but who had graduated to nasty, slime-ridden comments, of “I’m not sitting in the car, next to Esther,” or she, of the famous Hebrew Queen’s name, ran away from the Randall G. Morris Elementary black tarred school yard before Liz could cream her, she ran blocks and darted through the back door of the twelve- room house on Fernwood Road, in West Roxbury, and double locked the old brass locks against an avenging twin.

Not quite like the caves and battles of Beowulf and Grendel, but darn, didn’t Liz thrust her fist through a small paned window and reach down and unlock both locks and burst in and pin the curled up Esther into the coat rack of old winter coats and jackets?

And then that twin and her queen-named counterpart would, miraculously at twenty-one, be kind to one another. The catalyst for such kindness was a brain stem injury on behalf of our sports figure, Liz, of the mighty fist, which rendered her, well let’s just say, “Rendered her.” From those days of miraculous recovery, a mother had died, the father remarried, the sister gone and married; the brother disappearing and last heard was a used car salesman. We proceeded to fill the pages of our lives and we would always help each other out in a crisis. One day of cumulus clouds in Caldwell, Idaho, she passed on, at age 68 of cancer. The first bracket of the hyphenated, “tell-the-twins,” passed, piercing the body’s shell, her soul going on, leaving husks of giant blades of a sad, sad life, but at peace and loving her boys, one who would marry a pure soul and produce golden children, but that is another story.

The story is now 7-8 years later, I, Esther, who was born twelve minutes later, am approaching that demarcation known as “Full of pages of life,” of skin like parchment paper, but also of still ever sturdy hips.

And so this has turned out to be a prose poem, for what does the poet do? They pierce the state of the mundane and rise to astonishment as words from an unseen ocean spill and spill out onto the earth of one’s mind.

imagesThe Uncaged Voice
2nd QTR, 2013-04-25
available free by request at annaing@centrum.is

Dear Family of Friends
You will notice that we‘ve changed the name of this newsletter. The truth is, we‘ve thought about it for a year now, and the new name came to me while I meditated out of this place. It moved me so The T.C. and Mama P Newsletter is now renamed TheUncaged Voice.
This newsletter began many years ago as an easy way for us to better inform family, friends, and pen pals of the realities of our life behind the walls. It was mostly updates on health status and BPH matters. The more I wrote, the more vocal I became, the more informative my writing became. Along the way, I discovered I had a politically outspoken revealer within myself. Then I began to seek other prisoners that had something to say. We may be in prison, but this newsletter has carried our uncaged voices out to society. With every one of you that posts it on your blog, web page, or copies and circulates it, you help us spread not only the truth, but our reality for others to see. Please continue to help us expose our words ….. our voices.
In this issue, the topic tended to focus on moms. I sat down to write, and blam! There it was. This will likely not reach you until after Mother‘s Day, but it is dedicated to all of the moms out there. You have the hardest job in the world. I knew it was hard when I was a kid, and that‘s when I decided I‘d rather just be responsible for a pet cat. Works for me.
Anyhow, I‘ve asked a few others to share their own thoughts, feelings, and realities in this issue about what it is like to either be a mother in prison, or to be in here away from their mother. Everyone has a different story, so I hope to be able to share other women‘s experiences, other than my own. I have my mother here with me, so every day is Mother‘s Day. For most however, prisons are built in the middle of nowhere, and then a community grows around it as jobs become available. Therefore, visits are never guaranteed, but they make all the difference.
Please share this newsletter with others. Hear our voices.
Happy Mother‘s Year!
TC and Mama P

Life Scripting – written by Wilma Kilpatrick
I know that while there are many free citicens reading this newsletter, many prisoners do as well. I would like to inform both groups of people about a class at CCWF calle Life Scripting. I do hope to encourage other prisoners to enroll in it.
Life Scripting is a very positive and informative 80 hour class that I recommend to those that have the opportunity to participate in it. It has taught me techniques in how to deal with negative energy regarding people, places, and things. It also guided me onot a path of self-discovery as I learned how to get in touch with my inner child. In doing so, I was able to gain insight into why I did many of the things I have done, and to grasp a clearer perspective into my thinking patterns. Negative habits cannot be broken unless they are recognized and addressed when you‘re ready to be honest with yourself, this class can help you.
Oh, sure there‘s a lot of writing! Anyone too lazy to write, need no apply. Change requires work and effort. For those willing to take a step in a new direction, this class offers hope for a better self-reflection. Participants are educated in the four key areas of self, family, relationships, and society, by arming women with the psychological strategies needed to make healthy, personal choices. The lessons motivates the students to want to alter their social and anti-social behavourism.
My personal experience allowed me to witness the unique approach the class exercises in helping women heal from their own traumatic experiences. Many suffered mental, emotional, sexual, and verbal abuses as children that left scars that lingered into adulthood. They‘re taught how to reframe, which is to rethink and look at things differently.
From what I understand, many of the Free Worlder‘s reading this newsletter are avid writers, some members of writer‘s clubs and guilds. Maybe there‘s an avenue there to seek something similar, if not at YWCA or local women‘s shelters that can recommend resources. For those at CCWF, I cannot stress enough how much you can get out of this class. Take advantage of this golden opportunity while we have volunteers that sacrifice their time to offer us hope for a new improved self.
Thank you for letting me reach out to you all.

Inmate Manuscripts / Publication Opportunity
Everyone has a story to tell. It could be a mystery of pure fiction, or an account of their incarceration experience. It could be of fantasy, science, or romance. It can be an open no-puncher-pulled memoir that exposes all of their well kept secrets as a means to tell the world, „I will no longer be silenced!“ We all have voices.
Prisons Foundation wants to publish inmate manuscripts. All genres welcome. They will not be screened, or censored. All work will be scanned as received, no editing will take place, so that means errors and all will be published. Proofreading is your responsibility prior to submission. You work will be placed on the internet for free worldwide reading on thier website, http://www.prisonsfoundation.org, and will remain there indefinitely (unless a problem arises where at their discretion, it needs to be removed). Anyone can view, read, even download your work at no charge. However, you do retain full rights to your book, should you later wish to later seek commercial publication for profit.
No manuscript will be returned. If you want a copy for yourself, either make one prior to submission, or wait for it to be published online and have a friend or family member go to the above website to download it for you.

Below are guidelines you must follow to publish your book. Your book will be rejected and will not be returned to you if it does not follow them.
1. Every page of your book must be on 8 ½ by 11 paper and unbound.
2. Nonfiction and fiction books must be over 100 pages and no more than 500 pages.
3. Plays, screenplays, poetry, music books, art books and comic books must be over 20 pages and not more than 150 pages.
4. A self-addressed stamped envelope showing your prison address must accompany your book so they can inform you of its imminent publication and verify that you are indeed the author.
5. The cover of your book must contain your name, title of the book (not to exceed 10 words, including subtitle), date, whether the book is nonfiction or fiction, a brief paragraph about it (to entice readers to read your book) and both your prison address and your outside permanent address.
6. Legal motions, transcripts and court records (unless they are brief and part of your book) will NOT be published.
7. If your book includes photos or drawings, they must be glued firmly to 8 ½ by 11 paper exactly where you want them in your book.
8. Use only one side of each sheet of paper (though you can use paper with one side previously used for another purpose as long as you mark out the side that is not part of your book).
We also recommend that you number and put your name on every page, write or print your book legibly and get another prisoner or staff member to edit your book before you send it.
Send your book to:

Prisons Foundation
P.O. Box 58043
Washington, DC 20037

She Did Not Fail Me by Randi Sorlon
It‘s getting harder and harder to do time. This prison sentence is of my own doing. I cannot play the mental battlefield game of, „If I had only done this. If I had only done that.“ There is simply acceptance. However, my actions have affected others, especially my mother.
I‘m not going to go on a merry-go-round of excuses for what may have led me to commit my crime. My mother did the best she could with me, and while I feel like I let her down horribly, I want her and the world to know that she did not fail me. It is I, who failed her.
I‘ve missed a multitude of holidays and one-on-one talks with my mother. I haven‘t been there for Christmas or her birthday, let alone Mother‘s Day all of these years. For years, she took care of me, my every need, and here I am at a point where role reversal should be in place, yet I‘m not home to take care of my mother, who is in failing health and aging more rapidly from the stress I‘ve caused her to endure. You could say, she‘s one more victim of circumstances I caused. Whenever I start to think to myself about how hard this sentence has been, I stop and remind myself that it is harder on my mother.
I make each day in this caged in world, not knowing if she made it through the night. Is her heart still beating? Do her lungs still take in air on their own? Has she not given upp all hope of our being reunited? Will she make it out here this year to see me? If not in May, what about by December? I wake up each day not knowing but more important is what I wake up each day that I do know. I know that I haven‘t made life easy for my mother, when all she ever did, was try to make it as easy for me as she possibly could. And I know one more thing. I know that she loves me unconditionally. The question is, what did I do to deserve that?

She Never Stood a Chance
One day, a little girl was born into this world, the product of either and unplanned pregnangcy, or quite possibly rape. For, what other reason would the birth mother have for being so angry that the child was born at all? The mother, not wanting to have anything to do with the child, passed the newborn off to her own sister to raise.
The newborn was raised by her aunt and uncle, but was none the wiser. She was clueless that they weren‘t her real parents. She believed that her cousins were her four siblings. She believed she was loved in a family that she was born into. However, as fate would have it, her little world was rocked and as a teen, she was dropped off at her birth mother‘s front door. Highly aggitated by the unexpected circumstances, the birth mother greeted the child with a slap across the face so hard that she saw stars. She was clearly an unwanted burden.
It didn‘t take but a minute for the live-in boyfriend of the reluctant mother, to make sexual advances upon the child, now a teenager in girly development. Discovering that the mother had no intention of protecting her from being molested and raped, the teen walked across San Jose to the police department to report the situation. There were no reprecussions for the adults, but the teen ended up in the foster care system. While there are many cases with wonderful stories in foster care, the same cannot be said for this one girl in particular. She went from foster home to foster home, being molested, raped, sadomized, and threatened to remain silent. Her terror and horror had only multiplied by her not remaining silent. She never stood a chance.
She did finally end up in one good foster home, but her ride on the Terror Train was about to end, as she was nearing the age-out date: her 18th birthday. Not long after that, she met a man that made her feel like someone finally cared about her. And maybe he did. At first. But, before long, he was proving to not be husband material, but by then, they had already been married. Another few layer of self-esteem evaporated by the time their second child had been born. And it was about to get worse.
Her husband wanted to „live to ride and ride to live.“ He wanted to ride with the Hell‘s Angels, chase women, and live a wild and crazy life that came from being connected to that particular motorcycle club. He wanted it more than his family he had already helped create. He wanted it so badly, that he agreed to let 30 to 40 of them come into his home and do dispicable things to his wife to prove his loyalty to the H.A‘s, putting them before any women, any thing. He wanted it that bad.
The first time it happened, it‘s any wonder she survived it. When she knew it was about to happen again on a different night, she made plans to avoid it. She fed and bathed her babies early and put them to bed. The infant and her three year old sister would be safe, as the H.A.‘s would never cause harm to a child. Believe it or not, no matter what one may wish to say against them, the don‘t hurt children. There really is a moral compass there after all. Before they could arrive for a second round of Boys will be Bullies night, she left the house. She didn‘t know where she‘d go, but her feet took a hike and she ended up at a bar. And that is when she met Mr. Nice Guy.
Nice Guy struck up a conversation with her, and she found him to be empathetic. He listened to her. By the end of the night, before she left to return home hoping it was safe, Nice Guy handed her a $100 bill. He told her the best thing to do was to get her babies out of that house. The money was to hole up and hide out in a motel room. The year was 1964, and you received a lot more stay in a motel room for $100 back then. He assured her that there was more help to come, and there was.
The girl was now a woman with two children and barely escaped a nightmare. She had help. She and Nice Guy began to spend more and more time together and he eventually married her. He adopted her children as his own, giving them his last name. He provided healthcare, food, clothing, a roof over their heads, every necessity for daily function and survival. He worked full-time, was a good provider, and treated his wife with respect. Her whole life had turned around. It was almost too good to be true. Well, not almost …. it was too good to be true. It took several years before he changed, but unlike the H.A.‘s, this guy didn‘t have a moral compass when it came to crimes against children. That is another story in itself. He was however like the others in his deviant acts against his wife. It comes on gradually and gets worse over tiime. That‘s how abusers do it. He was indeed an abuser.
After all those years in foster care, she thougth the worst was behind her. After those years in a hopeless marriage, she still had thought the worst was behind her when Mr. Nice Guy became her knight in shining armor. But it only got worse.
If you were to ask her why she never left him, she has more than one reason. First, she loved him. Defects and all, he was the man that not only rescued her, he also secured a future for her children that would not involve the foster care system. Secondly, between her childhood and two husbands, she had absolutely no self-esteem or confidence in herself that she could function alone, for she had always had a man telling her what to do. And third, he had told her that she owed him because he rescued her and her children. That if she left him, it‘d be the last thing she‘d ever do. Fear had once again ruled her life and both dominance and control were in some one else‘s hands, not her own. She was defluted, defeated, and empty. She was trapped in a home that felt more like a prison. In a sense, she was a sex slave, but because they were married, it wasn‘t deemed rape even without her consent. Oh, sure, now they call it spousal rape, illegal by law, but they didn‘t in 1988 to the best of my knowledge it wasn‘t until the 1990, but I‘m not sure.
I felt badly for this woman, for her past was one big open wound. I felt anger at the husband, because he was my stepfather, and that woman is my mother. All her life she was somebody‘s victim. She never really stood half a chance from the day she was born. I feared he‘d eventually kill her – and who‘s to say he wouldn‘t have? My fear kept me from thinking clearly, and I put myself into a position that ended his life, but affected so many others. My actions resulted in her coming to prison because she felt responsible that I killed him. In her mind, if she hadn‘t told me about his series of sexual violations and buttery, she believes I‘d never have gone to their house that night to stand up to him. What she doesn‘t realize is, none of this is her fault. I didn‘t need her to tell me anything at all. I could see it in the tears in her eyes, the bruises of perfect handprints around her wrists. I saw it in a black eye. I heard it in the tone of her voice. It was evident in her fading joy of life, her state of mind as a darkness called depression was engulfing her. I didn‘t need her to tell me. I knew. And I felt like a coward for not having stood up to him before then. Her past wasn‘t her own doing any more than that night was. I‘ve crtainly learned that there are other ways to deal with perpetrators in non-violent ways, however, it has been pointed out to me that the fact remains: My mother has not been raped, sodimized, beaten, bullied, or victimized by violent intent since the day I killed my stepfather 24 years ago.
From the day my mother was born, she‘s been in one type of prison or another. Right now, it is this manmade one in Chowchilla, even an LWOP sentence is up for parole consideration after 30 years. She‘s served 71 years. Technically …. A little girl was born in Jan Jose November 30, 1941 … and she never stood a chance. Tell me, where is the justice in that? Is it any wonder Lady Justice was a blindfold?

The Raw Truth About a Prisoner‘s Mother‘s Day by Cora
Every woman in prison eperiences their own Mother‘s Day. Some are mothers that have the privilege of visiting their children. Most have their mother‘s who want to visit them. And some enjoy the privilege of both. A good many have a good, happy story to tell, but no all of us do.
I am 48 years old, and mother to five children aged 17 to 31 years old. When I came to prison, my children were still in school. I left them in a changing world, but promised that they would still see me no matter what. Twelve years ago, that promise seemed realistic, but over a decade later, I can count on one hand how many times I have seen my children. On a number of occasions I broke down and begged other family members to bring my children. I felt so powerless.
Throughout the years, my mother‘s vision deteriorated, and blindness was setting in. I finally got my mother, health concerns and all, to agree to chaperone my children to visit me. That was the year that she died of heart attack. That was 2005, eight years ago, and when my heart began to harden. The pain is unexplainable, as I deal with this double-edged sword each Mother‘s Day now.
As Mother‘s Day approaches again, I‘m beginning to feel the nervous energy and anxiety, that includes sleepless nights, and when I do sleep, nightmares. This is the wrost holiday or the year for me, because it represents a day of celebration with the children that I gave birth to ….. only there aren‘t any reunions or celebrations. I perceive the day that I received my sentence, as the day that active motherhood ceased to be a reality. And I miss it every single day.
The Dept. of Corrections declares that they favor and wish to encourage family visits, however that is not so simple for many of us. For many of us, we‘ve been relocated several hours away from our loved ones. My family lives five hours away, and in this economy, it is not cheap to travel halfway across the state for such reunification. This is not something you can prepare yourself for. It‘s not something I added to my Bucket List. The truth is, my decision one day has led to my children and I growing apart. It is my burden to face.
That God for the Get on the Bus Program (GOTB). It is a community contributed opportunity for children to be brought on buses on Mother‘s Day weekend to see their mothers in prison. The GOTB takes care of gas, transportation, and food for the families to eat at their visit, as many are economically strapped, if not just downright dirt poor. My second daughter who is now 22 years old, began coming with GOTB when she was 16 years old. All that was required, was a chaperone. She has a dream that the governor will reduce all 85% prison terms to 65%, which would get me home to her much sooner. In the meantime, she tries her best to keep our family together.
One year, my daughter came with GOTB, and I noticed that she had bruises on her legs. She didn‘t want to talk about it, but I discovered that another family member had put their hands on her in frustration. Why? Because she fell asleep on the toilet at 4 A.M. getting ready to come see me. I had to promise her that I wouldn‘t say anything. To do so, would have resulted in my family terminating any future visiting plans. How would you deal with such a revelation on Mother‘s Day, in a room with dozens of children and several correctional officers that would have seen a negative reaction as violently disruptive? I honored my daughter‘s plea for not reacting or speaking out on it. No and easy decision to make, nor to live with.
My two oldest boys, aged 21 and 30 now, stopped coming to visit or write when they joined their new family: gangs. When my younger son had a chance to visit me, the authorities refused to allow him in due to his birth certificate being too worn. He was enraged and stood out in front of the prison screaming, „Free my mother if you won‘t let me in!“ That day, my sister was allowed to visit with me while they had my son visit in a trailer where he cried in bitter defeat. I spent 15 minutes listening to her tell me how vital it had been for me to see my son that day. He was dealing with peer pressureto join a gang. He needed to talk to his mother. That was two years ago.
Here it is again, Mother‘s Day is once again upon us. Like many, I can‘t see my own mother, for she‘s left this world. Like many, I can‘t see my children, for I left their free world and reside a world away in prison. The anxiety and stress sets in. I‘ll be a nervous wreck on the Saturday before the holiday, and I‘ll dread the inevitable … dozens of women on the walkway, in the unit, and even those in my room, greeting me with, „Happy Mother‘s Day!“ It hurts to hear it, because I have a few thoughts that ramble around in my head, and deposit themselves in my heart. First, will I get to see that little boy I left 12 years ago, who is now 17? Second, will my daughter travel safely, let alone make the trip at all? And third, what about my two oldest sons in the gang? When will I see them again? No, no, no …. will I see them again?
As I write this, I cry. I have tears rolling down my cheeks, it‘s hard to breathe and the lump in my throat is getting even larger. Call it regret or maybe remorse. Call it loss or devastation. No matter what you call it, it is the consequences of being a mother in prison. And that is a hard pill to swallow. It‘s also, the raw cold truth.

I‘ll Never Know – by The Truly Remorseful
I dont know what it is like, I‘ll never be able to epress enough,
To be alone on Mother‘s Day, Remorse for what I‘ve put you through,
To never again, feel her embrace. And I will never truly know,
I don‘t know what it‘s like, I don‘t feel sorry for myself,
To be a mother who lost her son, On Mother‘s and Father‘s Day,
To be her the second weekend of May, What I do is think of you,
Coming all undone. As I hit my knees and pray.
I‘ve never known that pain,
The loss, the ordeal,
Losing a child so young,
Then being told my would would heal.

Unconditional Love Without Boundaries – written by Niki Martinez
I have been extremely fortunate throughout these 19 years that I have been incarcerated. Many times I feel so unworthy and undeserving of the unconditional love that is so freely given to me.
I have caused tremendous pain and devastation, and I have hurt so many people because of my actions. I have continuously failed my parents throughout the years, and disappointed them in ways that no parent should ever have to deal with. I have brought them excessive heartache that I constantly created in „this world“ with my own self-absorbed, self-destructive hehavior. How ignorant I was!! I never took my parents for granted, but I can honestly say, that I didn‘t appreciate them as much as they should be appreciated and valued. They definitely deserve so much more and better that what I have given them. They are precious, priceless gifts froom God that I truly cherish today. It blows my mind, swells my heart, and humbles my spirit, that after all these years, after all of the disappointments, agony, and shame – they still love me and are still by my side.
I remind myself constantly that they don‘t owe me anything. They do not have to accept my collect calls or come to visit. They do not have to take care of me, and they don‘t have to even care. My iniquitous crime and actions brought me to prison – and yes I was only 17 years old at the time, but I am the one who committed the crime. Not them. I created this catastrophe. I ruined, destroyed, and shattered lives, families, and communities. When the world judged me as a vicious, teenaged monster, my parents seen their precious child. They could have easily walked away and gone on with their lives, but I must say, thank God for my parent‘s love. It has been the ultimate force that has definitely carried me through the years. My love, gratitude, and appreciation for them is completely immeasurable.
My Dad‘s love is unconditional and so fulfilling. He has blessed my life with his love, his care and concern, his dedication and his presence. He travels all the way from his home in Chicago to visit me at least twice a year. He even rides his Harley out here in the summers. He spends days on the road just to get out to California to see me. Talk about love! He even brings an entourage of friends and family to come and visit me just to make sure I feel the love, and that I will know that I am loved. How amazing is that?!! I haven‘t made it easy on him, but his love is endless. It has been empowering, and his love is what keeps my heart beating – literally – to this very day. My Daddy is a phenomenal father, and yes I am extremely fortunate and beyond blessed.
My Mom has been the ultimate blessing to my life. The agony that she has had to endure because of me, has been inconceivable, yet she still showers me with unconditional love. She has been there to comfort me when I felt like I was falling apart. She has been there to encourage me when I felt like I couldn‘t stand to do this time another day. She has picked me up and carried me when I felt defeated. She fed my spirit hope when all I could think about was giving up. She has taught me the lesson of faith, and blessed me with her knowledge, wisdom, and of course, her love. She has given me the greatest gift that any mother could give their child – and that is to know Jesus. She has been on her knees praying for me every single day for two decades. No matter how much trash and devastation I have brought to the table, she continued to love me, and she never gave up on me. My mom has helped mold me into the woman that I am today … with morals, ethics, integrity, and the love of Jesus in my heart. She is truly an inspiration and I pray to aspire to be half the woman that she is. I am so honored that she is my mother. She has saved my life, my spirit, and my soul. It is only by the grace of God, and the wisdom and love from both my mother and father, that I still have my sanity, my health, and I am with a faithful heart and an encouraged soul.
I continue to breathe every day not only because of my parents, but for them, God has blessed me with the capability of breathing on my own, and I thank Him every day. What a gift!!
I am blessed with wonderful parents: Jesus, Jesse, and Gladys. I thank God for my life, and that they are all in it. Cherish those whom love you. Happy Mother‘s Day. Happy Father‘s Day. And God bless you all.

Q & A with T.C.
Q) How is the VSP to CCWF transition going?
A) Hmmm … to quotate an officer, „I haven‘t seen so many disrespectful, angry at the world, youngsters in all my life! They think they can do whatever they want!“ Apparently, the rumors we had heard for the last 15 years about VSP being strict with structure were, just that – rumors.
Q) What‘s up with Folsom housing women?
A) They don‘t live with the men. They can only house 403 women, and in an open dorm setting – no cells. Basically, they sleep iin cubicles like in an office building, so no electrical appliances are allowed.
Q) Whatever happened to that Correctional officer that got arrested?
A) Sergeant Edward Tovar, who volunteered at a local high shool as a girl‘s softball coach, took a plea bargain to avoid a trial. He was sentenced in Madera County court on March 27, 2013 to a lousy 128 days and 5 years probation for multibple charges of child sexual molestation. He got a slap on the wrist, and the D.A. had the nerve to say, „He‘s not going to have it easy.“ Why? Because he lost his job as an officer? Because he has to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life? Because he is jubject to random polygraphs? How does that serve justice? I can just imagine the outraged parents when they heard it‘d be days served, and not years. He was a mandated reporter. He was in a position of authority and trust. Ask anyone. He got off easy. That‘s the census here. Go on, Google it. Once you have all of the facts, you may agree that being in a position of authority does have certain privileges.
Q) How is the Medical there these days?
A) The Medical Receiver, who was federally appointed to oversee all of the 33 state prison Medical Depts., has slashed the budget and spending from $600 million to $300 million across the board. A lot of medical procedures and surgeries requested by doctors, are being denied. A local hospital in Cororan has had to close their doors and let go of staff, because the bulk of their business was the nearby Cororan State Prison for men, where 10.000 inmates are housed. Yes, ten thousand! So, with costs slashed, it is bound to directly affect the well being of chronic cure inmates.
Q) What happened to CCWF trying to kill of the rabbits there?
A) You can‘t keep a good rabbit down! While many were victims of rabbitcide, our furry little friends put on their bunny armor and refused to go down without a fight. They‘re everywhere! And these little guys are picky eaters. They won‘t eat lettuce, but give them apples and bread and they‘ll love you for life.
Q) Any more news about the 85% rumors?
A) An inmate told me that a friend of hers got word from her mother via telephone, that affective June 1st it should be in effect. The mother apparently had a letter signed from Jerry Brown himself. Whether 85% term inmates will drop to serve only 65% of theyr term, remains to be seen. I‘ll believe it when it happens.
Q) Any other rumors you can speak on?
A) No, but I could make something up. You‘d be surprised how fast a rumor will spread in here, and what gossips will believe.

A Letter to God
Dear God,
I want to thank You for having kept my mother and I together all of these years. There were times when circumstances beyond our control separated us, but You kept placing us back together ever since county juil. In our darkest hour, You let us share our own light with one another. Thank You.
I don‘t know what it is like to not be able to talk to my mom on Mother‘s Day. I don‘t know what it is like to wonder if I will ever see her again. I don‘t need to rely on the phones or mail system to express my love. While her being in prison for a crime I committed is not fair at all, I do see the bright side. I do see that I have not missed the last 23 years with her physically present in my life every day. There are a good many here that wish they had this blessing. I do see the blessing that it is, really I do, but I also see the downside, Lord. I can‘t help but to see what is right before my eyes.
Above all others, You know how hard prison has been on my mother‘s health. The older she gets, the younger they come in here, and I stop to wonder, „who raised some of these people?“ In March, my mom could have walked out of here and paroled to Crossroads, but her fate was decied in October 2012 that that was not to be. Not yet. I‘m sure You have Your reasons, although the panel had their own. I don‘t want to question Your will, but I‘ll admit that there are times when it is easier to pray The Lord‘s Prayer, than it is to exercise it.
My mother is tired. Anyone with half a brain can see it. I believe the only thing that keeps her hanging in there, is me. You‘ve given us a couple or close calls with her strokes, and it scared the heebie-ba-jeebies out of me each time. The fear of not knowing if she‘d return from the hospital, or be physically independent if she did. That‘s a fear that many lifers and others here experience with their own mothers in society. The question too fearful to voice! Will I see her in the free world again?
God, I know You have millions of people in Your ear all day long, and believe me, I do not envy You of Your job, but I want my request officially in Your Prayer Request Book …..
Lord, if You have any plans to take her home to You, could You please not let it be in here? Please, let her be free to pet a purring kitten once again, to make her homemade Portuguese Sweet Bread, to sleep in a real bed, and know what a bubble bath feels like again. I don‘t know how I‘d react if You took her before the system set her free first, but I can assume I‘m likely to lose it. She‘s here because of me. I was only trying to protect her that night. My way did not work, obviously. So I ask that You protect her Your way. I pray that my request reflects Your will. Nobody knows what it‘s like to be. Nobody, but You. Please don‘t let me be held accountable for two deaths.
In Jesus‘ name, Amen

On a Lighter Note ….
So much emotion in this issue of the newsletter, huh? Well, to lighten the mood a moment here, I want to share one of the funniest jokes I‘ve seen in awhile. It was sent in by Lisa Santimaw a few moths or more ago. It goes like this …

Mr. And Mrs. Fenton are retired, and Mrs. Fenton always insists that her husband go with her to Wal-Mart. He gets so bored with all of the shopping trips. He prefers to get in and get out, but his wife loves to browse. He racked his brain to find a way to get out of having to tag along. One day, Mrs. Fenton received the following letter from Wal-Mart:

Dear Mrs. Fenton,
Over the past six months, your husband has been causing quite a commotion in our store. We cannot tolerate this behavior and may ban both of you from our stores. We have documented all incidents on our video surveillance equipment. All complaints against Mr. Fenton are listed below.

Things Mr. Bill Fentoon has done while his spouse was shopping in Wal-Mart:
1. June 15: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in people‘s carts when they weren‘t looking.
2. July 2: Set all the alarm clocks in House wares to go off at 5-minute intervals.
3. July 19: Walked up to an employee and told her in an official tone. ´Code 3‘ in house wares … and watched what happened.
4. August 4: Went to the Service Desk and asked to put a bag of M&M on layaway.
5. September 14: Moved a ‚CAUTION – WET FLOOR‘ sign to a carpeted area.
6. September 15: Set up a tent in the camping department and told other shoppers he‘d invite them in if they‘ll bring pillows from the bedding department.
7. September 23: When a clerk asks if they can help him, he begins to cry and asks, ‚Why can‘t you people just leave me alone?‘
8. October 4: Looked right into the security camera; used it as a mirror, and picked his nose.
9. November 10: While handling guns in the hunting department, asked the clerk if he knows where the antidepressants are.
10. December 3: Darted around the store suspiciously loudly humming the ´Mission Impossible‘ theme.
11. December 6: In the auto department, practiced his ´Madonna Look‘ using different size funnels.
12. December 18: Hid in a clothing rack and when people browse through, yelled ´PICK ME!‘ ´PICK ME!´
13. December 21: When an announcement came over the load speaker, he assumes the fetal position and screams ´NO! NO! Its those voices again!!!!´
And last but not least.
14. December 23: Went into a fitting room, shut the door, waited awhile, then yelled very loudly, ´There is no toilet paper in here!´

From the Heart
The telephones attached to the white painted cinder block wall don‘t really look like much to the casual observer, but if you ask Dee Dee, Becky, or especially Niki, they‘ll tell you that they are a lifeline to the outside world. The policy requires our family and friends to set up ability to hear the voice of their loved ones. The bills are paid before the calls are made, but still when they accept the charges of those collect calls, it screams, „I Love You! You matter to me!“
Whether a letter or just a signed card, the fact that we are worthy of a little of your time and a 46 cent stamp speaks volumes. At Mail call when the officer says your name, what they‘re really sayiing is, „Someone out there thinks you‘re pretty darn special.“
We would be lost and lonely, hopeless and empty of any fight left in us if not for the love of family and friends. I speak for all prisoners, not just mom and myself. The first and third verses of the Blake Shelton son „God Gave Me You“ says it all. Here‘s the first part of that song:
I‘ve been a walking heartache / I‘ve made a mess of me
The person I‘ve been lately / Aint who I wanna be (but)
You stay here right beside me / And watch as the storm blows through
And I need you …. cuz
God gave me you for the ups and downs
God gave me you for the days of doubts
And for when I think I‘ve lost my way
There are no words left here to say
It‘s true … God gave me You.
So, I say from the heart … not just on Mother‘s Day, Father‘s Day, Christmas, or Thanksgiving, do we celebrate each of you in our lives. Dear loved one, please know that your love and support makes everyday a personal holiday in our hearts. And that is straight froom the heart!
Namasté,
TC and Mama P

T.C. Paulinkonis Pauline “Barbara” Paulinkonis
W45118 514-16-4U W45120 514-16-41
PO Box 1509 PO Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93610 Chowchilla, CA 93610

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Bean Town

Boston feels like a sink hole, an asphalt taffy road with unexpected, unplanned for sags, taking the nation down and then up. Our hearts run to each other in times of tragedy, and someone else’s child is ours. We claim him, her.

Boston is in my marrow, even though I left there when they still hadn’t found the Boston Strangler, you know the guy who was murdering old women, and I was renting a room in Belmont, and the other roommate, Miss Bell, was very old.

I waited for the Cuban Crisis to be over, kept huge boxes around in my small vertical room, with tops open. I had ended a relationship and just couldn’t do law firms, relationships, or disregard from relatives anymore.

I had a VW grey Volkswagen convertible, with actual orange, Marx Nixt sticks, which to this day I don’t know how to spell, but I tell you, that car would go 55, and that was it, and by the time I edged out of Buffalo, my second morning, I was glad, because the heater was frozen, and I wouldn’t have made it through a Boston winter.

What’s in me from Boston? Libraries, libraries, libraries. Books, and my autodidactic self which took itself around books alphabetically, until I had read everything every author I fell in love with had written. In high school, as a rebel, I quit checking out books, and just stuffed them under my raincoat, and returned them that way.

Boston had the Charles River and the Harvard Teams crewing, but before that West Roxbury had Billings Field which was flooded in the winter, and my boys’ black hockey skates flew over this field every day. It was a time of Roast Beef in the dining room with the family on Sundays, and weekly meals in the kitchen for just us kids: leftovers on Mondays, Spaghetti on Tuesdays, Wednesdays I don’t know, but it was an era of the same type of meal each day, and our clothes were picked out the night before. School, the Randall G. Morris Elementary School was one block away, and on the first floor almost at the end was my mom’s room, and it felt as if I had a night light, even though we kids couldn’t have mom as a teacher.

I remember the smell of tight, smell of rubber, pink balls which bounced against garage doors with a thwap, and yearly visits to the Constitution, walking down narrow steps to its innards, and I remember visiting the Bunker Hill Monument, reading Johnny Tremain, and everything else for that matter, all stitched inside my soul as “Boston.”

I don’t remember girls having showers in high school, so the concept of running a marathon didn’t hit me until I was in my early 40s, and started running 3 miles a day.
In my era, we witnessed black out curtains, shortages of tobacco, sugar, and we jumped on tin cans, and later fought over who could massage the round orange ball inside the plastic covered white lard package to make margarine. We rooted for Ike, and laughed about having a naked man swing in the trees at the top of the hill where the Water Tower stood, a silent sentry to his bizarre behavior.

Boston’s a town that changed quite a bit; a town where prejudice of skin color and class etched pain in anyone’s heart in the 1950s. In my small patch anyone who wasn’t Catholic and Irish were suspect, except at high school, Roslindale High, and then we kids didn’t draw any type of line around, through, or over friendships

But somehow, maybe because change was in the air, always necessary, and because of books, and unobserved deeds of kindness, I didn’t pick up the alcoholism in the family quilt, and I moved to California, leaving the idea of skin color scorn and judging someone who didn’t speak the King’s English. Los Angeles in the early 60s was bizarre and multifaceted. Still, Boston, was a good place to be from, despite James Joseph “Whitey” Bulger, Jr.’s cavorts, and the horrible racism of Louise Day Hicks. I somehow knew change would come when we managed toe holds on the crust of the 60s. So now when I hear of newscasters laud the tightness of solidarity, I wonder. Is that really true?

But I tell you, we are all from Boston, or Newtown, or New York, or Baghdad, or Congo when atrocities hit us or others. The human heart has a way of moving borders. Got to tell the leaders about this. They need to know.

in-the-shadow-of-angkor-new-writing-from-cambodia-and-cambodian-america

Did you know there’s a type of bug or spider that runs along in the Iraqi desert along side the figure running, and this spider is vicious and has teeth and will give a deadly bite, but it hides in the shadows. I read a biography of a doctor’s time in Iraq, a time where her husband, a Marine also, stayed home with the twins (toddlers) and her mom and dad came in to do heavy duty grandparent duty. I can’t remember the title of the book, and given the multiplicity of books now emerging, can’t remember. Today, as never before, a plethora of memoir on the war; did I say war, I meant “wars” emerges, and I think all valid. It is time to give voice to a day, a moment, an hour, and those who do will cause me to think and feel, and say, “I’ll not forget.”

The pages are still blank as far as our future history goes. Did we go down that random vortex of unimaginable horror, like living In the Shadow of Angkor, written and edited by a friend Sharon May, and also Frank Stewart, and is a University of Hawaii Press publication?

Today as never before, did I say that? Today as never before, the forces of light and darkness duke it out, and how can one forget moments. Yes, my world is still as small as a canary-yellow and-white-cough-drop-colored paper bag, and a picture of a very fat, curly tailed pug, with stocky front legs resting on a small child’s red chair, but over these images lays a heaviness of what is happening out there; out beyond the insulation of our culture and those who romp and play on a Fantasy Island, like Pinocchio, and mercifully, there is always beauty in the world, and prose of horrors overcome, as in Angkor.

I am reminded of a weekend course on the foundation of education building a world society, and realizing we are in a paradigm shift, and it is uncomfortable, but current educational practices are based on getting all of us through a system as the Industrial Revolution, and that won’t work.

Now is the time for us to enable capacity and connection and authentic perceptions, and spiritual insight. We are children of a half light emerging into a global civilization which must consider that we are coming of age spiritually, and it’s time to throw down all shibboleths (is that a word) of difference and pulsate on hoping our tattered world will win the battle of old egos as in old dinosaurs.

But I am dangerously near preaching or lecturing, and the heart, anyone’s heart will go into heels dug into the ground, don’t push me into a way of thinking, but to end with a remembrance of a day I’ll not forget is to remember 9/11 after the airplanes’ destructive paths, before politicians’ games of power, a blank space, like the action potential of the cell before it hits the synapses, and a blank time where we were cylindrical in our unity and our caring for the other; we seemed to be enwrapped in columns of blue misty caring, and we were one – giving new meaning to prayer as a state of being.

imagesCA2GPRGH

I sit here on the anniversary of my marriage to my husband who is now 78, and I say to my 74-year-old self, “Self, did you think 27 years ago you’d be sitting here contemplating verbs and old age and giving out sage advice, sage being not only a spice?

I vividly remember our wedding, my dusty pink Laise Adser dress with pastel green nubby cloak with hood, like Meryl Streep wore in the French Lieutenant’s Woman. Bill and I fit like Bogie & Bacall, like bookends of similar but different backgrounds. We remember radio. We were Catholic. We were from the right-hand side of the United States, and we both love pug dogs. Is this the basis of a spiritual relationship? It is.

There’s more this story – how I met him after he had been a Baha’i for two weeks; how I had to go back to being a legal secretary, having left my cubicle four years earlier to return to college; how we had income which was good in the beginning, and how I just before I met him I made the insane decision to buy a radio for my car. We met, we laughed, we matched, and in a dream one night our DNA code swirled around us in figure 8’s. That’s what I call, “It’s a sign.” Yeah, we did a lot of that too.
I made a list of qualities wanted in my unseen mate, and this list fell out of a book a year after we were married. Everything on this long narrow list, “Sensitive, spiritual, humor,” was there – I turned to him waiving the list of scribbled hopes, and said, “I forgot to put tall,” but if so, I wouldn’t have married my husband who is about an inch shorter than I.
It’s been an action packed life. We moved seventeen different times. I had health issues which I’ll speak of at 80 or so. We traveled across Russia, visited Siberia, and lived in Ukraine and Belarus, before, during and after the breakup of the Soviet Union. We also lived with my second mother-in-law who told me one day, “You carry the heavy stuff for him,” and now it is the day of our 27th anniversary.

I sit here with a hiatal hernia, and a suspiciously ingrown toe. I am in my red and black PJs – contemplating words used for aging. Baby Boomers take note. “Use strong verbs – might I suggest “lurch” and “cope.”

My marriage, and a plethora of other happenings, healed me, and now we both face the final frontier. I finally have self-acceptance and self-appreciation, except for an occasional Thursday of black condemning thoughts. It is a time of great inner wisdom and also a time when my body becomes like an old truck spending more time in repair. An ashtray falls out, gets fixed and doors fall off. The unknown is with us every night when our sliding door shuts. Allergies descend upon my husband at every weather change, and it feels like the English Channel roars through my ears, until I turn and rub his back to his snuff, snuff, cough, cough away. I am like someone spraying the end of the contents of the Raid Can.

Again it is also surviving a twin’s passing first if you want to know, and it’s being grateful for skin that looks young thanks to a friend’s gift of Clarins. It’s having a pool house with very low rent and landlord kindness. It was having heart and gall bladder surgery within days of each other and surgeons writing off their fees, but not telling me. It’s standing up to my last breath for the oneness of humankind, and always helping someone every day. It’s living beyond the fringe and not having 401K’s and not giving a rat’s ass, but rather living in a quirky world where status is a blind removed from my mind knowing wealth follows poverty and poverty follows wealth , and I think of the quote, “ O Children of Dust – Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor …” and even when my cash flow is minimal, I listen.

It’s having lingering fears in a dark hour at night, when I get up to pee and hope when I am very old, I will not be a burden, and I don’t want my family to take care of me, because I’ve lived with two mother-in-laws. It doesn’t work very well.

It’s every day having something slow me down, feeling crappola, but then again getting up, like a Russian Matroishka doll who bops up repeatedly after falling, and like a Russian Woman who is strong, and other women also, it’s seeing the beauty in so many faces, and loving the nobility among the anonymous. It’s having two themes fascinate me – man’s humanity to man and man’s inhumanity to man. I don’t mind dying, it’s the getting there, and I want to have integrity and nobility. So far I’ve managed to have dignity in the extreme times of my life, but one never knows his or her ending. It’s also having great kids, family, grandchildren and friends.

It’s living with more soul than body, and not ganging up on myself for having a peanut butter sandwich every morning for breakfast, and drinking lemonade, a good kidney stone prevention. It’s always turned towards something greater, a Divine Presence, and yet being willing to throw my whole being over a cliff for the wellbeing of the world.. It’s always learning, always seeing the wisdom in all things, no longer have shoulders tense up about every issue on earth.

Moderation to some degree has come to me. Trust, like surfing the opaque waves, is there also, but I have to guard this feeling until my last breath, and maybe one silent no breath. It is a life of purpose and humility with a whispered hope that I’ve left the world a little brighter.

Funny.  From the blog Embracing Homelessness – this person is an incredible writer, and I am privileged to know her.

eloquent, nonpartisan, well-considered response to corruption!

Mel's Madness

The headlines overwhelm me. The financial markets. The NATO rioting. Our own politicians’ posturing about the debt “crisis.” I have grown weary of the political forums on Facebook and elsewhere. The caricatures of Obama as monkey. The tar baby references. The Right tells gays they are abominations.  The left talks loudly about dildos in response. The Right blames Obama. The Left blames eight years of George W. Bush. For everything. Believe it or not Ayn Rand is STILL being talked about though she never had anything to say. Every year teens “discover” her and use her as an excuse to not clean their rooms or take the trash out or babysit their little brothers and sisters.

A pop singer’s nipple was exposed during Good Morning America. Why do I care? We spend $13 billion on porn every year in the United States and girls are sold into sexual slavery

View original post 2,428 more words

Stevenleocampbell.wordpress.com-Thank you Steven!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He  gave out Reader Appreciation Awards to 7 people – My blog was one of them!

I Googled the award today, looking for the bright sunflower, and didn’t find its source. So Reader, this is what I think it is.  We bloggers, who run across out computer keys at night when the earth sleeps, play word games in the velvet ether of the night, toss out sorrows, hug happiness, create metaphoric mountains and potholes, and all the while race towards the world and each other in a prepublishing, I’m going to publish this tomorrow on WordPress!  We all fall into this category.  We who blog.  Those who read blogs.  Both, all, none, many.

The rules of the Reader Appreciation Award:

1. Include the award logo somewhere in your blog – check center photo above.  Ta da!!

2. Answer 10 questions (listed below) for fun if you want to.

3. Nominate 6 or 10 to 12 blogs you enjoy

4.  Provide the links to these blogs and let them know they’ve been nominated

5.  Provide a link to the blogger(s) who nominated you —- http://stevenleocampbell.wordpress.com

10 Questions and my answers for the Reader Appreciation Award

1.  What is your favorite color?

The color of the current book I am reading, or the wine colored cover of Gleanings, Baha’i Writings.

2. What is your favorite animal – no need for me to answer; everyone who reads this post will roar back.  Pug Dogs.

3.  What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink?

Lemonade, don’t drink Alcohol

4.  Facebook or Twitter

FB, my home away from home, the entrace to the train station called my life!

5.  Favorite patterns?

Pattern of oneness and connectedness in relations throughout the globe.

6.  Do you prefer getting or giving presents?

Giving, giving.

7.  Favorite number?

Nine (9)

8.  Favorite day of  the week?

Wednesday

9.  Favorite flower?

Purple Iris

10.  What is your passion?

Giving people opportunities to discover and/or develop their voice – teaching creative writing.

My 8 nominations for the Reader Appreciation Award:

http://normanpickles.blogspot.com/  – Pugs, pugs, and more pugs.  Enchanting when the heart is orphaned      and one’s physical space not allowed this type of 4 legged package of      entitlement.

http://pagesforsmallwages.wordpress.com/  Gwendolyn McIntyre – perceptions on      writing, life, things that go bump, keep the writer going!

http://www.bahaithought.com   Phillipe Copeland is author of the blog, “Baha’i Thought” which offers commentary on issues of religion, society, and culture based on the teachings of the Baha’i Faith.

http://mrslittlejeans.blogspot.com/,      mrslittlejeans is a scientist and offers enchanting views of her two      felines, photographs of same, and a sharing of mystic perceptions.

http://writingasasacredpath.blogspot.com/   Jill Jepson – I have her book, the back cover of which reads in part, “Discover the Soul of Writing,” writing medications, prompts, rituals, exercises all drawn from traditions of Buddhist monks, Navajo storytellers, and much more.

.http://www.studiomorran.com/  Studio Morran, dogs, crafts, art, visual whimsy!

http://gerrygwilson.com/about/  A published writer, writing teacher of note, an encourager to all

http://whimsygizmo.wordpress.com/  prolific poet, enchantress with words …

http://wordrustling.wordpress.com/  metaphors and smiles – enchanting poetry-Hannah Gosselin

http://swthink.blogspot.com/  so whatcha think  – Brooke Ryter – a book, an impact, soon to be revealed – check it out.

http://arachnoidcystsupport.blogspot.com 

Maria McCutchen has written a book, It’s All in Your Head, and I think her story should be widely read.  I’ll show image. I got my book at Alibris, an online bookstore, which sometimes has prices less than Amazon.  At any price, this is an important book.

http://lublenok.blogspot.com/  Leonid’s World  is the name of his blog.  We met him inMinsk when we gave English Club sessions.  He’s fascinating, innovative, and dear, and he speaks of past history and his family.

Love and best wishes to all.

l  a n g u a g e  a f t e r  t h e  1 0 0  y e a r  w a r

 

The Nouns were in control in the neighborhood of Verbiage.

Adjectives were forced to end their 100 Year War.

This war was known as the Great War of Planet Earth in the Days of Rhetoric Only.

Verbiage, like a fireplace bellows of yesteryear,

had simply exhausted its wheeze and could no longer

control the Nation.

Politicians would no longer be described adjectively.

Thus, our President could be described by the Press as, “A   

man whose eyes narrowed when a syllabic word entered the

toy store of his mind; a man whose Rubber Ducky drowned

when his bath water became higher than what is necessary for

the average leader; or, a man who could bob eternally on the

Ocean of Platitude.”

This leader called up his country’s Reserve Marines again.

These Marines were sent to a land which resembled a cannon

to which they would become fodder. They would obey their

mission, climb into these cannons, and be shot out over the

land of buildings which no longer resembled buildings.

Naught would be seen but structures of rubble which resembled

cookies crumbled in the hand of a monster as tall as the

sky.

The Congress would not be allowed to use descriptions

which included the much abused adjective. This caused some

consternation, for our Congress knew of the paucity of adverbs

when running for election. The Congress member

would no longer be able to crawl into that vat of adjectives

filled with words guaranteed to portray an individual Congress

person righteously and puffily. These adjectives, I might

add, are thrown carelessly into this vat, like screen plays in

Los Angeles, like potato chips in a Lays truck which had escaped

from their Bag Containers.

The Nouns issued an edict: “Stick to the Facts, Jack.

Straight Facts for a Straight Land,” a land which had lived adjectivally

and splendiferously for too long, thereby wreaking

an ecological knowledge gap of a very long five years. Politicians

had appeared on the NewsHour program with Jim

Lehrer, and on what used to be Peter Jennings’s NewsHour,

and on Tim Russert, to reveal Sunday after Sunday (or was it

Monday after Monday?) narrow gamboling minds and nuances

of the political dance. These very same politicians verbally

trolled linguistically along to thinly expand titles such as

“Theatre of Operation,” “War Games” and, last but not least,

the most abused noun in the world, Democracy—Democracy

became a gutted, slutty word, misused and stretched like

hardened taffy in a candy machine after the summer crowd

had gone home.

A rape of the Nouns had occurred. What choice did the

Nouns have but to take over the Nation? They cried out,

“Aack, aack, aack! No more.”

And so as this tale is difficultly told, but blessed for its attempts,

all the while failing in adverbial splendor, time will tell how language

controlled its environment so that facts and integrity might emerge again

 children of the world forget that “Truthfulness is the foundation

of all human virtues” (Ruhi Book 1 – Reflections on the Life of the Spirit)

an odyseey harrowing and yet incredible

a journey of illness, misdiagnosis, conundrums and courage

Maria McCutchen, a stay-at-home mother with two young children and a tight schedule, couldn’t find the dairy section of her local supermarket one day.  After the usual questions women ask themselves, about stress, being over tired, or I’m imagining this, she asked her husband one night, “Squeeze my head,” and he does.

Her head ached, and her head also felt like a water balloon pumped full of water, a sense of building pressure.  He wrapped his hands around her head, and he squeezed.  Her thoughts became more clear, and she felt better.  He stopped and a feeling of flood water filled her skull, and her brain fog returned.

She consulted a mild, quiet and pleasant doctor.  He will be the first of many.  She answered the questions, and then follows a routine she will learn by heart:  “Stick your tongue out, smile, hold your hands out in front of you like you’re carrying a pizza and close your eyes.”  Ah, and she also walked across the floor of his miniscule office. Long story short, after an MRI, and a call the very next day, “We see something,” the doctor’s voice matter-of-fact, offering no more or no less says, “I need you to come in.”

She had a cisterna magna, a posterior fossa arachnoid cyst. But the doctor was not concerned, words such as “benign” and “unremarkable” floated over her head.  Moments later, a handshake, and a “You’re fine,” because you see most people are born with type of cyst and they don’t cause problems.  She returned home wondering, what if I’m the exception?  No time for that.  Her husband lost his job.  Their insurance will run out.

Fast forward to  a harrowing pain-filled drive to live in New Mexico, episodic endurance of brain tests done incorrectly, dismissal of her symptoms, suspicion by doctors and blatant repudiation of her illness.  Lace that in with family concern, trying to raise 2 kids, keep a family together, and obliterating pain, agony, nausea, you name it, but then, she finally finds a doctor in Arizona.  He will recommend brain surgery.  the tests before, during and after are trauma filled and painful, and there will be trouble in River City after her brain surgery.  But still she reassured herself that she’s in the hands of a good neurosurgeon specialist in neurology in Arizona.  She must, however, return to New Mexico.  More happened.

I sat down after 7 o’clock last night to read this book.  I got up at 12.30 noting, “I’m up too late again,” but I had finished the book.  I didn’t move.  I sat on my black leather couch in our small pool house turning page after page.

The unsaid around her struggles reveals a very courageous, loving, gutsy woman in extreme pain, with great times of hopeless and yet a warrior spirit.  That makes a noble being in my book.

Her account is well written.  I think this book should go viral.  Yeah, I just broadened my blog base, and here I am using trendy terms, go viral, but the bloggers and FBers out there will know.

It’s All in Your Head – Maria McCutchen.  Copyright (c), Tate Publishing, LLC.

http://www.creativewritenow.com

280 pages – $15.99 (paperback)
$9.99 (digital download)

from You Carry the Heavy Stuff, Lulu.com/Amazon, the author’s garage….. ISBN 978-0-557-20933-0-essays, poetry, observations from a twin’s dying to cubicle despair in a corporate world with voices of buoyant pathos, mystical reverence – you catch my drift

Why do I write?  Like now, when the dishes sit orphaned in the kitchen sink because I, the washer, am typing, sharing, breathing, living, putting off the inevitable, because once a long time ago, I was so hurt, I couldn’t breathe.  I carried that hurt with me forever, until I found out that sensitivity is the price and the prize for being able to write, for being able to read people, to Braille the unsaid.  I write to a lady in prison, who said “I liked a phrase you wrote, “The language of God is a tear running down someone’s cheek.”

I write because I read, insatiably, gobbling, inhaling, filling myself with the human condition; splat on the floor some days, like a big old squishy bug, flattened, dead, its body swept up by old straws on a broom; and then I write to show the magic of St. Theresa’s Snow Queen Altar when I was young, and how everything looked like a wedding cake, and I write to tell how when I was younger, and so needy I could have impaled myself on a stake wide and big, sort of like a meta-letter holder, except the stake would run through my insatiably needy heart, and a note on my back would read “loves too much,” and that was before the book Women Who Love Too Much.

I write because I have gone beyond Medieval Posts puncturing my despair and loneliness and have decided Men Who Love too Much is here too.  Maybe we all love too much, and I write because maybe none of us love too much, for we are told by images in advertising, that we should be thin, jaded in the eyes, like the look of models for Vogue or whatever, who probably could shoot up heroin on their lunch hours, and because despair is trendy and nihilism and materialism and not giving a damn might be the language of the hour.  But then there is the lonely, little, big, young, old, trembling, brassy, you-catch-my-drift-writer who writes because he or she must, and words have a visceral effect upon her, him, the dog, the surrounding room.  I write of hopes for the world, and a good ham sandwich or description thereof on a sour dough roll, with slabs of mayo, and a bed of lettuce, and curled pink ham,  ready to go into someone’s mouth which is opened to the size of half a ladder, is  a good thing, a good description.

What this nation needs is a good ham sandwich and a Pepsi without the aspartame and some down to honest to goodness honesty that is the natural condition to communicate, to be real, to be afraid of bugs in knotty pine walls when the walls come alive at night; to watch an elderly blind woman, clutch the corners of her walker, take a breath and remain a sweet sweet spirit, knowing that her condition, her tests are the divinely calibrated kind, even though trucks have run over her emotionally, and I write to tell of the anonymous amongst us, the bravery, the small acts of courage, kindness in this nation where the world is narcissistically checking its derriere in the mirror, and no one or precious few are listening to the “midnight sighing of the poor,” and where we must have immense courage and speak up; talk, yeah, walk the talk, be it; speak up; tell future generations who we were, wanted to be, became anyhow and our hopes for the future; because someday we will all be sensitive, spiritually inclined, aware of our oneness,  and otherness will go on a back shelf like Twinkies, no longer approved of by the American Heart Association, and writing will be celebrated by hoots and hollers and a piping or two from a medieval horn or Siberian throat, and the arts will have a way of grabbing our soul’s innards and carrying us through the day.  These are some of the reasons I write, but there are others, but today is Wednesday and those are my Wednesday’s writing reasons.

prison wire at Chowchilla

Ten or so years ago, I read a request in the Women’s International Writer’s Guild newsletter.  A small 3 line or so request, which I am updating to the present day (Mother’s Day 2012).  Readers, further into my posts, you will find entries of T.C. Paulinkonis, her mom, Barbara, and life at Chowchilla Prison, a too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter prison, where T.C. sends, and I receive, or I send, and she receives mail.  She has been in prison for 22 years.  Her mother may soon be released, due to age and infirmity and go to a halfway house. You will have to decide whether you want to be a penpal or not.  I did, and I’ve never regretted it.  First her current plea: “Imprisoned woman seeks pen pals and contact with the outside world.  Please send SASE w/1st letter to: Teresa Paulinkonis (W45118); P. O. Box 514-16-4U); Chowchilla, CA 93610.”  She needs mail.  Contact with the outside world keeps these women alive.  She and her mother were battered women.  T.C. was also sexually abused repeatedly by her stepfather, and one day she retaliated.  They didn’t get arrested under the “Battered Women” concept.  They have been exceptional prisoners for 22 years.  She started a newsletter.  My relationship with her is one of mutual respect and love.   I didn’t ask her for quite a while what the nature of her conviction was.  It came out gradually.  Her mother is ill, has botched eyesight because of a procedure within the walls, and I believe has fibromyalgia, and a host of other ills, such as diabetes. Barbara Paulinkonis is coming up for her parole board hearing in August and may be released.  TC has an attorney (a volunteer firm) who is working on her release also. TC and her mom are in the same cell, and now Barbara can’t even make her bed, so TC takes on all extra work.  She is an incredible daughter, and never complains.  Her mother and TC are very loving and appreciative. You must send any request to her exactly as stated.  I have sent envelopes which were the wrong shape, or sent too many stamps, and not known cardboard cards are not accepted, and each time, TC or any prisoner, for that matter, must pay for the whole package being returned and they make about 12 cents and hour. There is a lot I can say.  It’s an entirely safe procedure.  Let me know if you take action.  When I am very old, and I lay down my bones, I’m sure there’s lots I could have done.  but writing to TC has been a mutual blessing, and I hope I have served her in some small way. Love and Happy Mother’s Day to all, and just Happy Day to all who love and serve.

aargh

I definitely am a communications maven, the drawback being, I wasn’t savvy about social media management tools.  Last night, or night before, I read a whole page describing social media, but it would not enter my brain.  I think the Blog is my favorite (Psst, don’t tell the others). I’ve also added many blogs to follow, conquered LinkedIn, decided against shrinking my URL now, and am considering the blogs mentioned in MNINB, April 21.  I think I’m up to date, theory only.  I have to assimilate.

This morning I awakened thinking about Tweeting, Twittering, you catch my drift.

Before I started my blog, I communicated with a couple of hundred people around the world.  It helps to move a lot.  Al, my recent graduated from marketing at Yale, with his MBA, said, “You have to have a blog.”  I did.  I was grateful to my 2-3 followers; bless their stalwart qualities.

I blogged, FB’d, emailed everyone about everything.  I’ve written 2 books and can promote them well.  I teach writing, so there you go, more computer time.  I like FB.  I didn’t think Twitter could be used for ordinary computers.  I thought it was for cell phones, the kind of cellies my young friends carry, i.e., sleek black, red, buttons, icons, push here, push there.  I felt Twitter was the scoop-up-words type of thing, words from the top of my head.  I like to go deeper.  Too brief, too shallow, too Valley Girl almost.

LinkedIn repelled me.  I grew up in a family that regarded their status proudly. Boston was glutted with those families who know their social divides.  I didn’t retain these traditions.

So I thought, Linked-in-schminked-in.

Now, I’m a Twitterer, a FBer, definitely a blogger, an email, and a Yenta of sorts locally for people who look for work, relationships, just anything.  A new friend, in from India, said I’m like a local Google, except with a small g.

I write because I must.  I write to weave humor, pain, suffering, and I write about anything, from sow bugs and sorry gnats to concepts of racial justice, oneness,  and I glut Goodreads with my I’ve read or to read type of thing.  I subscribe to Powell’s on line, Book browse, locally, and on.

I am like an untrained Dalmatian.  I bound into life.  But, a concern I have, throwing aside professional need, is Twitter.

I wonder what sociologists will make of our current culture.  We have invisible lace webs over our heads that cartoon out – “didja eat,” “how bout them Dodgers,” and every other light through, phrase or sentence that settles tentatively on our brains.

What does this say indicate about attention span in the future?

I’m light, I’m funny, and I love whimsy and playing with words.  We do a lot of that on CHPercolatorcoffeehouseforwriters, and I guffaw on the floor over our hilarious exchanges.  But, I wonder, if we just go to a restaurant, casual, Marie Calender’s, Denny’s, Cocos, and see kids to adults to seniors.  A lot of heads are bent over their cell phones tweeting.

What about social skills?

We live in a society that is tremendously immediate.  Instant news.  “You heard it first at Blah Blah News.”  I can multitask without a blink of an eyelash.  But, can I sit down and study things, reflect at great length.  At this point in our world, is the speed of light winning, and reflection of the light losing?

I want quality.  I’m naturally speedy and can type rapidly.  But I want depth too.  It seems in the world today we inhale.  We inhale words, sounds, pressures, work, you name it.

A Hopi prophecy said, “When the world speeds up, slow down.”

That said.  I throw myself into my day and am enormously busy, but my relationships are fun and solid, and we form friendships in our writing circles, in my Baha’i life.

Sure, I’d like to be recognized; what writer wouldn’t.  But life is more than that.  I tell my students, we are reaching a time on the planet where arts should be everywhere, an Arts Rising type of thing.  The world is so busy, so full, why can’t we soar locally, forget the star system, a Kingdom of Names type of thing.  It’s all about bringing life and love and creativity to one another.  We don’t always need a stage.

I’d love and welcome other comments.  These are mine at the end of a busy Sunday.

http://educationunderfire.com/the-vision/

Rainn Wilson did a college tour, not for the sake of comedy, but for that of human rights. Along with other panelists from Amnesty International, Education Under Fire, and the Bahá’í faith,Wilson spoke to a packed auditorium about a serious topic: the religious persecution of over 300,000 Iranian members of the Bahá’í faith.

The history of Bahá’í persecution dates back to the group’s inception. However recent government-sanctified systemic disenfranchisement (or as it’s called in polite circles, the passing of discriminating laws that bar Iranians identifying as Bahá’í from basic human rights like public services and education) has escalated to the point of attempts to shutter the underground university, Bahá’í Institute for Higher Education, and mass arrests of BIHE professors.

Many teachers are serving 4-5 year prison sentences from their arrest in May, 2011.

But why is the funnyman on a college campus for something so grave? “My family is Bahá’í. Had our family been living in Iran, my 7-year-old son would not be allowed go to school.”Wilsonhas appeared in Baha’i conferences before, but it was the events in May that helped organize these groups together. Amnesty International had been trackingIran’s human rights violations since the overthrow of the Shah during the 1970′s. Another group produced its namesake documentary, Education Under Fire, was born from the reactions of volunteers to keep the secret school operating and to spread the news of the persecution. The team spoke at several local Boston colleges like Boston University,Wheelock College, Harvard, and Tufts.

                       

Director Jeff Kaufman, actor Rainn Wilson, BIHL graduate Mojdeh Rohani , and Northeast Regional Director of Amnesty International Joshua Rubenstein .

The documentary screening and subsequent talk was intended to be a call to action.Wilsontold the audience, “Go and ask your schools to accept BIHE credits or help teach an online class.” Flyers given to attendees listed over a dozen ways potential activists could help their cause. But perhaps the best testimony came from a BIHE graduate, Mojdeh Rohani, now a graduate of BU’sSchoolofSocial Work.

“I still love my country. But when I’ve been asked to go and help them with disasters they find out I’m a Bahá’í, and I am rejected immediately. I have not been able to go back.”

The panel disbanded, and Wilson was whisked off towards the next stop of his tour, the airport.

To find out more about Education Under Fire, check out their website.

I hope people can respond to this! Thank you, Esther

http://educationunderfire.com/multimedia/

The T.C. & Mama P Newsletter – First QTR, 2012      Free online at annaing@centrum.is

Dear Family of Friends,

It is with great exultation that we bring in 2012. Why? Well, because it means we all got through 2011. It also means that we have a lot to look forward to. There are lifers receiving parole grants and most of them are definitely going home. Jerry Brown is letting the Board of Prison Hearings do their job. Good ol‘ JB is OUR governor!

This year Mama ´P´ is once again going to appear before the BPH to seek a parole grant. There really isn‘t any legal reason for them to deny her parole. She will be represented by Elisabeth Peterson at that hearing, which will likely be held in October.

While her legal team is seeking parole, my team is seeking a new trial for myself. A Writ of Habeas Corpus is being filed at the first level as a form of appeal for relief. That level is the Superior Court that held our make believe trial. In a nutshell, my Public Pretender should have had me psychologically evaluated and probed an investigation once allegations of abuse were raised in testimony. Legally, she was obligated to provide me with an adequate defense, but she tied my hands and sealed my mouth. And, we all know that I‘ve found my voice and will not deny the past any longer. My fight could take months or over a year. It all depends on how far we need to take this battle.

In either scenario, 2012 holds hope for each of us. It also holds hope for the many lifers who have served well past their matrix. It costs far more to keep productive, aging, lifers in prison, that to release them to a second chance and allowing them to integrate back into society. We can assimilate. Really, we can. There may be a tad of culture shock after decades in captivity, but that is to be expected. Maybe JB can put The Happy in our New Year. Let us hope so.

Namasté

T.C. & Mama P

Help Is Available

For the many lifers reading this newsletter, I believe that knowledge is to be shared. As you strive to achieve whatever you can to impress the BPH, they really show favor to any self-help that you seek or accomplish. I want to help you add a little more ammunition to your arsenal for the battle ahead.

I already covered in previous newsletters, the vital necessity of insight into your crime, and that the BPH finds book reports on self-help programs available through correspondence efforts listed below.

Turning Point was created and is conducted, by ex-cons. They offer a total of 20 lesson plans in which you can earn a series of certificates. BPH favors this program.

Creative options offer Parenting, Anger Management, and other studies, also by way of correspondence. Like Turning Point, this one is free.

The PASS Program offers two semesters of courses on a variety of topics from Victim Awareness, Addiction, Domestic Violence, Conflict Resolution, and Re-entry into society, just to name a few of the ten topics. This program however, costs $500. What prisoner can afford that? If you can, I suggest that you enroll and get your achievement certification in Personal Psychological Development. Yes, BPH favors this too.

Turning Poing                                 Creative Options                              PASS Program

2049 S. Santa Fe Ave.                  P.O. Box 808                                       P.O. Box 2009

Los Angeles, CA 90021                                Lyons, OR 97358                               San Francisco, CA 94126

What It‘s Like For Me by Cora Lee Lee

It was a morning, like any other. I was on my way to my work assignment, saying hello to a good many women that I had said good night to about twelve hours before. It was like any other morning until the words I heard stopped me dead in my tracks. I must‘ve looked like a trapped animal with nowhere to turn. My mind was reeling. This wasn‘t how I wanted to start my day.

„Mrs. Cora! I was looking for you. I just got back from court and I rode up with your sister. Y‘all look just alike! She says she loves and misses you. She can‘t wait to come over the wall to see you.“ She. Can‘t. Wait. To see you.

This woman went on and on about mys sister, but all I could hear at that point, were my own thoughts. I was caught up in the thougth that this could not be and that I didn‘t really need this in my life. I mean, was I being punished? The idea that she was here – my sister – tightened my stomach and had my mind whirling with spontaneous anxiety. My entire being was distress. I acknowledged this woman‘s words, but my smile was feigned.

Before I go any further, let me stress that this is not one of those cute prison formed relationships. There‘s your prison mom, which you met here. She didn‘t give birth to you, nor did you know each other in the free world. So, there‘s prison mom, or sister. Then, there‘s the real deal. Bloodline. The sister in question here is my bloodline. That makes a world of difference. And unless you‘re a lifer or long-termer doing time, and you have a family member in prison with you, I doubt you can say you know how it feels, even if you empathize.

I‘ve been down a decade now with ten more years to go. It‘s been a struggle to take care of myself and survive. Each day may seem the same, but sometimes there are challenges. For instance, the cells hold eight women, but more often than not, at least ten or more personalites. Prison is a stressful place. I will not sugar coat it. And people have a really nice way of getting on your last nerve … without ever trying. So, who needs the added stress of, „Hey, your sister is here, and she wants to see you?“

Please don‘t misunderstand me … I love my sister. What I don‘t like, is that she did the same thing to me that other people have done. You see, this isn‘t her first trip to prison, it is her second. On her first round, she made parole promises of how she‘ll never forget what prison is really like, and she‘d be there for me once she got home. Parole promises includes taking pictures and sending not only photos, but money and writing regularly. A parole knows all too well that prison is a lonely place that can make a heart feel desolate and empty inside. Parolees know that mail call is a lifeline to the outside world and it takes money to survive in here. The chowhall food is inedible, they don‘t provide adequate clothing for the inclement weather, and they consider indigent status to be one dollar or less. If you have one penny over a dollar yes one lousy dollar, then you‘re not considered indigent. You can‘t even buy two bars of soap for one dollar, let alone the necessary hygine items for the mouth. My sister knew this. She experienced this. And then, she left me with false promises and a broken heart, for I fel abandoned and forsaken. I have had my share of phony parolee promises made to my face, only to become added disappointment in the reality of prison life. I just didn‘t expect it from my own flesh and blood.

Two years in society may feel like, well, two years. Ah, but a couple of years at CCWF can feel like double that. Yet, here she is two years lated, „I‘m back!“ Yes, back and disarrayed from the life she chose out there to be in the predicament she is in now. Back at CCWF looking worn from the wear of her decisions. However, while she‘s been gone, I‘ve been working diligently on myself to be reassimilated back into society. As I watch women return to prison over and over again, I strive to get out. It‘s insulting when they act like it is funny, yet I scratch my head with a WTF look on my face. They act as if they just don‘t care about their freedom. Well, I care about mine, and I‘ve come to not only learn, but to accept, that I‘m doing this trip alone. I‘m the one who‘s working on me. I‘ve been really steady about avoiding the many distructions that can impede progress … and then my head was spinning at the news of the arrival of my sister.

I do not receive halftime credits. I am working everyday to one day to be free. In the meantime, I join others to fight for the rights of women, and to battle Battered Woman Syndrome. Lifers and long-termers fight to be freed, yet parolees find humor in „I‘m baaaack!“ Like T.C. says – it‘s a slap in the face of freedom. And it breaks our hearts, because all we want is a chance to get back out there to our loved ones, and not see the inside of these walls again. That‘s all we want. We work tirelessly toward that goal.

So, taking all of that into consideration, what does it feel like to see a loved one come to prison? It hurts deep down inside. It hurts so deeply that you want to go into the shower and cry your eyes out. That‘s really the only place that is semi-private in which you can go for a personal bawl release. You want to just let it out before it dominates you. It hurts folks. It hurts like hell.

So, for all of you sisters and mothers, cousins and nieces and so on, please do not feel offended by my bluntness and honesty. We would rather that you‘re in a world that we are painstakingly working hard to return to, that for you to be a number behind these walls. That‘s why they offer a visiting room for us to meet. The free world is where we both need to be … where I long to be. And that is where I want to be reunited with my loved ones without anyone telling us that our time is up. If you‘re reading this from the free world, stay there. I hope to not be too much longer. Don‘t give up on me. And Sis, I love you. Thank you for your blessing to share this message. You never know who needed to hear it.

Anything Is Possible

When I was just a kid, I never really considered what I would do with my future. I think I was just hoping I‘d have one. I think the first time I considered my future was when the recruiters made their rounds my senior year in high school.

I almost did it, you know. I almost signed the final document that was the equivelent of selling my soul to Uncle Sam. Now, don‘t get me wrong. I love my country. My heart bleeds red, white, and blue. I support your troops. I even pledge allegiance to a flag I have hung over my cell door. God, she‘s beautiful. However, if I joined, it would have been too final.

The Army. I nearly joined the Army after being fed that bogus storyline about how my best friend and I could go in on the Buddy Program. Why Army? I wanted to be all I could be. Well, to be honest … Navy was out because I‘m water challenged, and the recruiter fed us lines about traveling to exotic lands, meeting new and different people, and trying new and unusual foods. I raised an eyebrow. Foods? I love food, but nothing still alive staring up at me, and nothing slimy. I despise slimy.

I didn‘t sign the document. Not only because I knew he was insulting my intelligence about the Buddy System, but because I would have joined for the wrong reason. It wouldn‘t have been for love of country, but necessity of escapism from my childhood at home. But, my core reason was that I didn‘t think I was capable of killing complete strangers. I just never really liked guns anyway.

Well, look at me now! I‘m on my 23rd year of captivity in the death of my stepfather. I never could have predicted this at 18 years old. I‘d have told you that you‘re crazy if you thought I could take a life. Anything is possible.

Stuff doesn‘t just happen. People make it happen by choices, decisions, and actions. Right about now I wish I was in some third world country eating something slimy, because slimy is better than this. Howevere, like everyone else here, I made a choice and I‘m living with it. But, do you know what? This place has helped me to be all I can be. The government still got me, but I probably would‘ve been more productive in the Army.

Moral of the story? Choose wisely. Your future depends on it.

Comfort Care Where? By: La Donna Robinson, A CCWF Hospice Volunteer

I have spent nearly every Monday night for the past four years, and eleven (11) months, in the Skilled Nursing Facility in the CCWF Treatment Center. I am a Comfort Care Hospice Volunteer, and I would be lying if I said that the comfort and the care are always present.

The Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) is a scary, lonely place to be. Many have passed on from there to a better world. Of course it is never easy to see one of our own die from an incurable illness. We silently pray that it doesn‘t ever happen to us, hope that they die a painless death, and sit patiently in wait until they pass to the other side.

These women are often referred to as „The Forgotten“, as some of them have never been seen by those in the General Population area of the prison, and are often not included in the special event s provided by the institution. Some are wheelchair bound, and some simply can not leave the SNF because immediate medical attention must be readily available should something go wrong. I know for a fact that just because they are forgotten by some, does not mean they are forgotten by all.

The General Population inmates pulled together and provided many personal items for Christmas presents for these ladies. There were hats and scarves (it is usually cold in SNF to aid in the reduction of germs), hygiene items, stationery and stamps, and much more. The G.P. inmates went out of their way to ensure that these ladies knew they were in our hearts during the holidays.

The SNF is not what it once was, and as with anywhere and anyone; one bad apple shouldn‘t spoil the whole bunch. Of course there may sometimes be a nurse who is having a bad day, or doesn‘t exactly like the idea of sharing her space with inmates, but for the most part, our sisters in the SNF are treated with loving care. When they aren‘t they make sure it is known so that we, together with the staff, can make it a more comfortable place for them. After all, for most of the women in SNF, it is a permanent home. Our job as Comfort Care members is to provide exactly what the name says; Comfort and Care. We are not junior nurses and it is never our intent to compete with the medical staff, or to dole out advice to patients. It is only our intent to ensure that our sisters who are often left excluded, do not die alone in a place designed to prepare for death.

I thank the women of the General Population for supporting the Comfort Care Memebers in our endeavor. They are always waiting with a kind word, or a question about their peers who they seldom see, but hear of quite often. You too, are appreciated, and your concern, prayers, and efforts to not go unnoticed.

Sincerely,

La Donna Robinson

A Letter To God

Dear God,

I‘ve had my heart broken with the loss of a friend who never hurt me like other have. He was one of the few men that I could feel comfortable being alone with. He never betrayed my trust or took my kindness for granted. He never abandoned me when it felt like the world had come crashing down. He never made me feel unnatural, although I was more of a square in his round peg world. His heart was always true.

I know that for all of us, our time on earth is temporary. I accept that you cross our paths with others for purposes we may often not be privvy to. When you crossed my path with Wolf‘s, you not only blessed my life, you filled a void in my heart. In the aftermath of my arrest over 22 years ago, he stood by me and the though of abandoning me was unthinkable. Just like the true nature of his name, he was loyal, protective, and one of Your most precious gifts to this world. Although our time on earth is temporary, love knows no boundaries … at least not in my heart.

Lord, thank You for the years that I was blessed with Wolf as my friend, teacher, and Big Brother. He accepted my contrasting lifestyle and joked that I was a big marshmallow on the inside. He was 100% of a 1%. He was betrayed and left for dead, but eventually found Carley, the love of his life. God, how she filled the emptiness of his broken heart. I don‘t know if she‘ll ever know how much he loved her, but she was his everything. She‘s probably the only reason he fought so long to stay in this world, but his time ran out, the road ended, and he left us. Our hearts are broken, but thank You for the many years that You blessed each of us with Wolf.

It was my hope to enjoy Burger King and wine coolers with him again. It would have been nice to just sit together and acknowledge that we each survived this long journey. While it saddens me to not have that opportunity, it disheartens me to think of all of the people who never had what I had with Wolf. All of those people who never knew him. Boy did they miss out!

Lord, do You think You can be a little patient with him? He‘s been separated from his Harly and his pit bull for quite a long time. He‘s going to want to enjoy both for awhile. He may be a little late to Orientation.

Thank You for the years, the memories. Thank You for the kinship, the relationship that was stronger than my own bloodline. It hurts to lose him, but I trust he‘s in good hands. Oh, and can You please tell him that he still owes Shorty ride down Calaveras Road? Thanx.

Endless Love,

Your Daughter,

Teresa Christine

Shout Out!

If there are any inmates reading this that want to contribute with an essay, opinion editorial, or share thoughts, experience, or give readers something to ponder about, talk to T.C.

Yep, I‘m the easiest person to locate. We all have something worthy to contribute. Sometimes, we just need to be invited to step atop the platform and let ourselves be heard. Don‘t worry if you‘re not the best writer. I will gladly proof and polish anything considered for print.

Crime After Crime Available on DVD

Deborah Peagler, AKA Tripp, had a story that needed to be told. By doing so, it may save lives. Yoav Potash documented Tripp’s life into a film that is now available on DVD. The documentary tells of her legal battle to seek freedom after being sentenced to 25 years-to-life in prison. I have shared her story and release in this newsletter before, as I also sadly informed of her death due to stage IV lung cancer. Tripp did not die in prison. She had nine awesome months of pure freedom before she lost her final battle, but she embraced each and every moment knowing that God smiled upon her.

I want you to know my friend. I want you to hear her story, from her perspective. Please support this film by going to www.crimeaftercrime.com and ordering a copy and watching it. I cannot stress it enough; You need to hear her story, which involved perjury evidence and prosecutorial misconduct. Think you know the legal system? This film will get you to think twice.

And She Calls us the Criminals!

Ever heard the term, “who’s minding the store?” Yeah, well, it goes to question who is in charge of who or what. Inmates have been saying for years that half of the psychologists in the prison system need a shrink themselves. I recall Dr. Majid, not sure of exact spelling. I called him Disco Daddy in reference to his unprofessional misconduct. He wore his wildly colored satin shirts open to mid-chest with his dark curly chest hair exposed within numerous gold chain necklaces. They had this creepy looking fellow conducting a sexual abuse survivor group in which he allowed one girl in particular to expose herself two sessions in a row. The only reason he prevented a third attempt was because the other women complained of being victimized by her aggressive attention seeking behaviorism. Oh, and I should mention he was eventually fired for of all things, sexual misconduct.

Then enters the picture of questionable antics of social behaviorism, Courie Ann Martinez. She is a CDCR Senior Psychologist Supervisor. Her employment duties included overseeing a team of clinicians at CSP in Sacramento, AKA New Folsom. That team treated inmates with mental issues, but I’m not certain if she had any rules in documents that may have influenced the Parole Board’s denial to any lifers. It is possible at the very least, given her title of authority.

In April 2011, Martinez had used sandpaper to rub raw her hands, torn her blouse to expose her breasts, had her friend punch her in the face wearing boxing gloves, and cut her own lip with a pin. She then called 911 to report that she had been beaten, raped, and robbed. She even urinated on herself to appear that she had been beaten unconscious. It was rather convincing.

Why would she do all of that? To set-up someone? No, not even close. Martinez wanted to manipulate her husband into moving to a safer neighborhood. Yes, this all concocted to get hubby to move out of their Sacramento home to a place more desirable. I’ve seen women in prison do some pretty ridiculous things to get a bed move, but Martinez really outdid herself. She may have even gotten the idea from an inmate who actually needed to be relocated for protective custody due to a sexual attack. Martinez, her friend, and two co-workers told police of the scheme in December 2010, resulting in the arrest of Martinez and her friend, Nicole Snyder. They are charged with criminal conspiracy.

So, in the end, Martinez has lost the respect of her colleagues, once convicted, will lose her job, and she also lost her husband who filed for divorce upon finding out of her scandalous play acting. It also makes on question just who is watching who in the prison system. Ain’t it nice to know where your tax dollars are going, though?

“Why Didn’t She Just Leave Him?”

“Why didn’t you just leave him?” is a question that many victims of sexual abuse are asked by people who don’t know any better than to ask that question. Anyone who hasn’t been abused cannot possibly understand what it is truly like to be a victim. They can empathize to a significant degree, but to truly know what it is like is not possible. I can read of a soldier’s experience in wartime, but I will never know what it’s like to be under enemy fire like that. Sadly, you had to have experienced it to know the depth of ignorance in a question like, “Why didn’t you just leave him?”

There are hundreds of women in the California prison system that couldn’t leave their abuser, or may have tried to, only to face the wrath of no mercy. My mother is one of those women. She knew that leaving my stepfather was the unthinkable act of suicide. There were a few times when she could care less about her own safety, but had to contemplate the consequences to my sister and myself. Abusers are skilled at brainwashing their victims into believing that they are worthless, uneducated, and most importantly, that “If you leave me, it’s the last thing you’ll ever do.” You see, they make leaving an option equivalent to death.

From the time that she was born, My mother never stood half a chance. She was passed from one abuser to the next, right up to her second marriage to my stepfather. I asked her why she didn’t leave him. I didn’t know better at the time. She did her best to explain that she loved him, and that she’d be lost without him. In the next breath she would tell me of his threats to not let her leave him. It’s all very confusing for both the victim and those who love them and want to help them to a safe place, wherever that may be.

The threats were real. So was the abuse she suffered. It was all as real as the black eye that George and Rick testified to seeing, and the bruises that spotted the canvas of her body …  an ugly portrait of domestic violence.

From time to time, I’ll hear someone say that they can rest assured that their children are safe with family while the prisoner does their sentence. Yeah, okay, but 93% of the time it is someone that the child loves and trusts that betrays and violates them. Do we ask children why they didn’t just leave the home or circumstances? No, of course we don’t. That would be irrational and insensitive. They are vulnerable and easy prey, as are victims of any abuse, regardless of age. Abusers attack those who appear to be, or are simply vulnerable. The victim doesn’t see escape as an option without dire consequences.

Picture if you will, an elderly man who runs the corner liquor store. It’s been robbed three times in the last two years. It’s always possible that on any given day, he could be robbed again. He could even lose his life in a robbery. So, why doesn’t he just close up shop? It’d be safer to not stay, right? He stays because he loves the store and he hopes that it won’t happen again. And even if it does, nobody looks at him like he’s stupid for staying, or tells him he brought it on himself by not leaving.

Why didn’t she just leave my stepfather? Well, for one she loved him for who he used to be, and hoping he’d stop being who he had become. She stayed because I never told her that he sexually abused me for so many years. She didn’t leave because she had been a kept woman all of her life and was always under the thumb of a male dominant figure from childhood. She kept hanging on to the hope that it had already gotten worse and that it  was time for it to better. My mother had no self-esteem in her tank and believed him when he told her she’d never make it without him. My mother didn’t leave him, because she didn’t know that she could, and she certainly did not know how.

If you know someone that is being abused by someone they love, don’t ask why they don’t leave. Be a friend and ask, “What can I do to help?” For someone in mom’s shoes, just offer your heart, and the rest comes naturally.

… But I‘m Okay

As a child I did not know,

Any better than I do now.

I wanted to escape my path,

I just didn‘t know how.

There are times I can feel his fingers,

Wrapped tightly around my throat.

Most times he cannot reach me,

For I hold onto hope.

In the early seps of recovery,

I felt adrift like flotsam.

I had no idea that,

This day would ever come.

It may not always be easy,

But I know the Survivors battle cry.

We will not raise the white flag,

And our spirit will never die!

It‘s been a long, long, road,

The journey a struggle now and then.

But, I‘m not that once fractured victim,

And I‘ll never be her again.

I breathe in hope with faith,

Seeing the brightest color on the palest day.

God, it feels so good to be alive!

The past left its mark, but I‘m okay.

From The Heart

I want to tell you a story about a little boy named Joey. I‘ve written of this experience in my memoir as well as in personal correspondence. In the process of writing this newsletter, the memory of Joey crossed my mind as I felt his footprints run across my heart. I‘d like to believe that is God‘s way of telling me that the story needs to be told again. So, here we go.

It was about December 1982. I had gone to Yosemite with several of my co-workers, and my best friend, Lori. I was only 18 years old. We had one of those heated cabins in Curry Village in the valley floor not far from the infamous Yosemite Falls. The cabins were meant for no more than four people, but there were five of us in the cramped space. All was good on the first night until somebody lit a cigarette in the cabin. I couldn‘t breathe. For anyone that knows my history, cigarette smoke is a trigger for me. It messes with me mentally and emotionally, puttin me back into the backseat of my stepfather‘s 1964 chevy. In 1982 I had still concealed my secret, and my co-workers didnt know better. Lori knew the trigger was somehow related to my stepfather, but never pushed me for too many details. She knew enough to not attempt to stop me from charging out the door of the cabin into the snow. And as a friend, she knew to not let me go out into the dark alone. She grabbed our jackets and joined me.

Once outside, I was able to breathe again. I couldn‘t tell her why it happened, but she saw the relief on my face. I began to walk toward the parking lot and edge of the tree line. Our feet left deep impressions in the packed snow; I could feel the cold through my hiking boots. She asked where I was going, and I honestly did not know. I simply felt moved to keep walking, and so she walked beside me.

As we came to the edge of the lot, that‘s when I heard it. I didn‘t know what I was hearing at first, so I asked Lori to be quiet so I could listen. Being that she knew my nature to play practical jokes, she insisted that I not do so out in the dark of night in the woods. She was picturing Jason and Michael Mayers in those slasher films. I insisted that I was serious. I held my finger to my lips, and that‘s when she heard it too. Crying. We heard somebody crying. We walked around the trees into the parking lot and that‘s when we saw him. He was about eight years old and all alone. My heart broke.

He looked up at us, two strangers looking down at him. He was croushed beneath a tree, surrounded by bushes. It was as if he were hiding. I knew from experience that hiding doesn‘t always work, and I feared what he my be hiding from. I introduced myself, crouching to his level. It took all of a few seconds to get him to trust us. That made me grateful that it was us that found him, and not someone else more sinister.

He told us his name was Joey. He had left the cabin that his family was staying in, because his parents had begun to argue. They argued a lot. Joey felt responsible for this particular argument because he knew why they were fighting. Apparently, it was his birthday, and he could go werever he wanted for his birthday. He chose Yosemite, but that‘s not what his father wanted. His parents were arguing over where his father felt they should have gone, while his mother defended Joey‘s choice. I almost didn‘t know what to say. Almost.

I got Joey to stand up and walk with us to the ice rink at the other end of the dark parking lot. The area was well lit, and there were lots of people around. His parents had to have noticed him gone. If they begin a search anywhere, my best guess was that they‘d go to the rink and ranger‘s office. I recall looking around the lot that could‘ve held danger for any child, especially one as distraught as Joey. Our paths crossed for a reason. He was shivering, so I gave him my jacket.

When we reached the rink a short time later, Joey walked directly to a space where a controlled fire sparked flames of warmth. He sat before the fire, his small hands up, palms flat toward the flames. My eyes scanned the area, but not a single park employee in sight. The ranger office was closed until morning. Joey took his little blue gloves off to feel the fire‘s heat more directly. We sat and talked about how he felt bad that his parents were fighting, and Lori and I kept telling him that it wasn‘t his fault. I must‘ve thought of my own stepfather. By that time I had learned that my parent‘s arguments were not my fault.

After a short while before the fire, and with Lori‘s not being able to locate any staff personnel, we decided to walk Joey back to his cabin. We weren‘t two sure of what to do, but his parents would certainly want him back, right? We couldn‘t take him to our cabin, we couldn‘t find a ranger and we certainly couldn‘t leave him abandoned in the night. We headed for the cabins, hoping we weren‘t going to make matters worse for an eigh-year-old boy.

Near the edge of the lot as you enter into the treeline, was a line of logs that encircled the boundary. The whole area was slushy from melting snow and mud mix. I had Joey climb on my back as I carried him piggyback across the slush and up the hill. In the distance we heard voices, but jubled together, shouting. The we heard it clearly, „Joey! Joey!“ being shouted by a woman‘s hysterical voice. He got excited, explaining that the woman was his mother. As we came up the hill a little more, we could see her in the snow, not knowing which way to search. He yelled directly into my ear, „Mom!“ I bent to let him slide off of my back, and he ran through the snow to reach her. What a sight! They embraced, and my smile suddenly faded when I saw him. The father. Lori and I made our way towards them and explained where we found him and that there weren‘t any rangers to contact or notify the parents. I explained that the though it was his fault that anyone may not have been happy that night. They embraced him together, telling heim what we told him: children are not responsible for the actions of an adult, no matter what the circumstances.

Joey‘s parents thanked us for returning their son safely to them. Before parting ways, his mother handed me my jacket, and thanked me again before we all called it a night.

The next morning, as we stepped outside of our cabin, we noticed Joey and his family leaving the park. They were far off in the distance, but they had their belongings in hand, just reaching the lot. I hoped in my heart that he would have a safe journey, both home and in life. Lori stood beside me and watched as the wather warmed the care up to leave. It was chilly, and I dug my hands into my jacked pockets, and I felt it. The soft yarn of Joey‘s little blue gloves were shoved into my pockets. He had put them there while around the fire. As I removed them, the car pulled from the lot, and I clenched those gloves, putting them back into my pocktes.

My path crossing with Joey‘s wasn‘t by chance, but by the grace of God. That little boy didn‘t just leave his gloves in my pockets, he left his name in my heart. I see that face from time to time when the cold forms in winter. I see that dark curly hair and tender eyes filled with tears. I see pure innocence. Every now and then, his little feet run across my heart and remind me that tenderness and humanity are the greatest gifts wrapped in love that we can give to the world. He also reminded me that in childhood, we are all innocent. All of us. Yes, even me. That little eight year old boy is an adult now. I often wonder how he is, where he is, what life delivered him in spiet of his home life. And I pray for him. Still, to this day, I pray for Joey.

I kept those gloves in a safe place clear up to the day of my arrest in 1989. The were blue with white snowflakes on them. They were a memory of one day when my humanity and compassion where tested. They were a reminder of a child‘s innocence.

So, I say from the heart to you … You dont have to wait for a child to be lost to show your own sense of humanity or compassion. You do not need to wait for an invitation to participate in an endeavor of the heart – just go find a cause that could use two more hands, and get involved. There‘s no need to wish you could make a difference, just go out and do it. There are soldiers returning from Iraq and elsewhere. Show them that you love them as much as they love their country. Don‘t know were to begin? Contact your local V.A. Hospital, and ask what you can do to help. There are millions of people who could benefit from a shoulder to lean on, a hand to hold, just someone to talk to. It could be a stranger, or someone as close as home. From the heart, I cannot say it enough, a little love goes a long, long, ways. Just imagine if we all did it together. Yes, what a beautiful, beautiful world!

Always From The Heart

T.C. & Mama ´P´

T.C. Paulinkonis                                                                                             Pauline “Barbara” Paulinkonis

W45118 514-16-4U                                                                                       W45120 514-16-41

PO Box 1509                                                                                                    PO Box 1508

Chowchilla, CA 93610                                                                                  Chowchilla, CA 93610

 From You Carry the Heavy Stuff, Esther Bradley-Detally – on Lulu.com., Amazon, and   Author’s possession 

Children of the Stolen Ones
(for Gloria Haithman—December 2, 2004)

“Greens” makes me think of Ola Mae’s Greens, down in my belly, in Olean,New York, as crowds of us burst into Ola Mae’s Restaurant on a regular basis to shoot the breeze, eat her famous Greens, and just to feel all’s well with the world.  Here in Pasadena,California, the subject of greens and chitlins came up.  I thought of Ola Mae, the camaraderie, her corn bread too, and just feeling part of the woodwork welcomed by her open heart and Best-Greens-Cook-In-The-World self.

In Pasadena, on a Wednesday night, Gloria talked about the same thing, but went a step further.  She spoke of soul food on another level, the spiritual teachings of love, hope, and faith.  She spoke to our insides where there are no colors.  Gloria said, “We were not colored when we were born.  Yeah, I thought, we came in that way, and no one crayoned some in, or bleached others out.

What if, instead of calling the dark ones, the Negroes, the People of Color, names given by history book scribes, say, “Black or African-Americans?” Then a phrase measured out, by Gloria, entered our gathering, all the while she was telling of a story of friends who called themselves The Sisters.  These Sisters went to South Africa, honoring their roots, and seeking answers to their identities.  On the trip they were constantly greeted by groups of women who would sing to them.  One day they met some African women who had the “Who are You? Where are you from?” look in their eyes, all the while staring at The Sisters.

One of the South African women said, “They are Children of the Stolen Ones.” Back in Pasadena, sitting on the orange velvet couch, those small noble words, “The Stolen Ones,” bombarded my heart as I felt my soul sink into a place of utter knowingness, of a reverence and majesty revealed.

As a white lady, an older one, who learned of our essential oneness some forty years before and humbly stayed on the thorny and pitted path of discovery and unity, I sat there stunned.  I repeated the phrase over and over to myself.  “Children… Children of the… Children of the Stolen Ones….”

Yes, and for me it was a rightful and merciful appellation.

Finally, dignity and solace packed into five words.  Measure it out on the tongue, slowly: “The Stolen Ones… Children of the Stolen Ones.” Feel your heart melt as if a great and timeless grief has finally been acknowledged.

My heart bowed a humble bow to the true nature of an incredible people, their majestic endurance, their ancestors.  I’m no artist and don’t know my colors, and I live in a world that thinks it knows its colors, and colors inside the lines, not outside—the “lines” being the operative word.

Well, I’d say in this year of 2004, “Maybe we should hear The Sisters, our sisters’, call from South Africa,” and use lines to wrap around: Majesty, Dimension, Endurance, Courage.  Name every quality our sisters and brothers of African heritage carry with fortitude, and you come up with, in my book, “The Chosen Ones.” And, what if God and his Messengers and Prophets saw that these Chosen Ones endured trials similar to the Minor Prophets? And what if Bahá’u’lláh knew His love for His Chosen Ones, knew they suffered the banishment, the chains, the whippings, as He, in the Path of God?

So here’s the final what if—what if this planet really was a testing ground to see who could show courage under fire, love of God, love of people despite that the Stolen Ones and their kin were also robbed? But wait, here’s another view.  I think the Children of the Stolen Ones are the Morning Glories of our age! Their children; their children’s children.  It’s the story Morning Glory.

Let’s proclaim, let’s shout, and let us bow in reverence to our ancestors, ransomed so we might reframe our hearts and join each other in history’s future where lines are a thing of the past and colors are loved-filled stripes of every hue.

Skin Color

At the Black History Parade, put on by the Jackie RobinsonCenter, one cold, but sun-emerging day, paralytic agony stops my nouns, verbs and adverbs describing skin color or lack thereof.  Pain fills my heart as my eyes Braille the sadness of a man’s face, deep rivets line his cheeks, highlighting generational discounts and the pitter patter of white voices.

Numbness clots my throat at this morning’s Parade, while those in other parts of the city, those from White gulags, tuff lawns, buff cars, and spread glossy interracial magazines, photo ops on tables, never viewed by the living.

Brown vs. Board, wasn’t that inTopeka?

In Idaho, Bill and I share a table with a Nigerian psychiatrist.  It’s lunch time in a hospital cafeteria,  and Bill asks a question which floats over our salads:

“Do you have to emphasize your African heritage”?

An acknowledged “Yes.”

A rueful, half-stated reply, “My children will not have that advantage.”

On the broad palettes of television’s life experts on society, are noticeable by their absence of color. Hey, what about The News Hour with Gwen Ifill?  Yeah, and Colin Powell, and… Yeah?  Hey guys, take the tour of Any City, USA, where two separate neighborhoods exist—bookends of ideological contrast.  One is spacious, forgiving, and tolerant, with wide streets, large houses and gracious plants, suggesting it’s easy to feel benevolent.  The other part contains narrow streets, boards on windows, hunger at night, restless poverty, and shootings.  Skin color privilege cuts its wide swath.

I can say no more.

The T.C.
and Mama P Newsletter – 4th QTR, 2011Available free at annaing@centrum.is

Dear Family of Friends,

Here we are, fourth quarter
already! This year seems to have passed by quickly, well for mom & I at
least. Hopefully 2012 does as well, taking us steps closer to freedom. Good
things are happening for lifers these days, so perseverence has its benefits.

Although many readers of this
newsletter have knowings for years, there is the occasional question of what it
is like to be a lifer. Some are amazed at the audacity of the legal system to
sentence kids to life in prison, let alone how a teenager accepts, adapts, and
matures in captivity. We will touch on these topics in this issue.

As a lifer myself, it is a sense
of vulnerability to open one‘s self up to the risk of forming and building
bonds in such an environment. The hardest part isn‘t telling the true hearts
from the vultures … no the most difficult thing is having to say so many
good-byes. People pass through here like water running downhill. Some are the
rare exception that remain in your life once they parole, but most do not. So,
good-byes are the hardest part, except when the one you say adios to are
another lifer. Those are the best good-byes ever! We have some of those to
report on as well, so let‘s get started here.

May this issue find you healthy,
safe, and feeling loved. We wish you a pleasant holiday season.

From
The Heart

T.C.
& Mama P

 

The Lost Child (By La Donna
DeLane Robinson)

There were approximately 25 of us … seated around the long brown table in
the dayroom at Los Padrions Juvenile Hall. It was dinner time. I was one month
into the age of 17 years old and my 16 year and 3 month old codefendant sat
loyally by my side.

I looked up from the Styrofoam plate where all the food was mixed together,
forming some sort of multi-colored daleidoscope of inedible forms and textures,
and gazed around the table at all the lost young souls such as my own. I then
suddenly screamed at the top of my lungs, „I´m never going home!“ You could
have heard a cotton ball hit the floor it was so quiet in the room. Then
another juvenile facing a life sentence quietly said, „Me neither.“

My codefendant instantly began crying because she knew that if I felt I
wasn‘t ever going home, she wasn‘t either. Cries and wails began resonating
around the room, as 10 of the 25 came to the same realization. We were the kids
who would never see daylight in a free world again. Counselors ran from all
over in an attempt to comfort us all-to no avail. There is no comfort for
children who are penitentiary bound, quite possible for the rest of their
lives.

I felt like I had no reason to do anything positive. I had zero esteem,
zero motivation, and zero positive outlook on my future. I was ashamed that my
mother had to come visit me in juvenile hall every weekend for two
years-something missing church, which was her lifeline, to do so. As if that
wasn‘t bad enough, I had a list of ´demands´ that I wanted fulfilled each and
every week. The judge had given me court orders for shoes, personal jeans,
weekday visits (whenever needed), phone calls (whenever needed) and may others,
and my need for these items were merely a juvenile game I played to see who in
my family felt the guiltiest for my situation. I got bored with that, and like
all kids too, I found something else to play with … God. But during my time
of playing around in church, which was my only means of seeing all my friends
and the boys who wrote me kites during the week, a man named Makadoo came to be
a guest speaker at church one Sunday. I can‘t say he immediately changed my
life, but he had a big impact on it. He was a parolee who had served many
years, and said it was God that saw him through his time and into freedom. He
started telling us all the self-help groups, classes, vocations and
accomplishments he had achieved. I wanted that.

As soon as I got to the Youth Authority, I got my G.E.D. (I had just
finished the 11th grade when I was arrested). I received my certification in
Airline Reservations and worked as an agent for TWA for three years. I became a
certified animal groomer, and continued to take numerous groups and classes.
When I was one month shy of turning 25 years old, I was sent to state prison to
finish out my time because I had been tried as an adult, but I kept striving
when I got here. And even though I‘m not quite where I want to be, I‘m far from
where I was. I‘m not a scared kid anymore with now view of the future, I‘m a
strong dedicated, determined, grown woman … ready for the world.

 

Liz and I Were Talking, and
…….

I was speaking to Elisabeth
Lozano recently about the status of SB9. As many readers have already learned
in previous issues, Liz is a juvenile offender sentenced to an LWOP sentence as
a teenager. As a matter of fact, she didn‘t even kill anybody, but was
sentenced as an adult under the felony-murder rule (she was there, that‘s all
it took). SB9 would drop an LWOP sentence on a juvenile offender like herself
down to 25 years-to-life if said juvenile offender has merited good behaviour
and proven rehabilitation. Well, the legislators voted on SB9, and once again
there were holdout votes to do the right things. Some legislators are downright
leary of appearing soft on crime, even if it is to demonstrate some level of
leniency and mercy on kids who made irrational decisions at age 16 or 17 years
old. Don‘t get me started on their brain capacity! However, it‘s not over.
There is still hope. The bill will be reconsidered in January, and hopefully
everyone can meet in the middle and quit bickering over the fine print and
restrictions. To further educate yourself on this topic or to see how you can
become involved in much needed revisions of the law, please visit these
websites! www.fairsentencingforyouth.org and www.juvies.org

Liz also wanted to share her
thoughts on the release of lifers this year. „In the almost 17 years that I‘ve
been here, I have never seen so many lifers go home! The most I had seen prior
to this year, was two. Two lifers in 17 years, then 12 this year alone, and one
more next week (before we went to press).“ Liz kept a list of the lifers that
were finally recognized for their transformation and rehabilitation, they are
as follows: Emily, Leeann Nabors, Marcia Bunney, Karen Narita, Sadie, Molly
Kilgore (who loves you, girl?), Fabi, Linda Rodrigues (you‘re in our prayers),
Mary Shileds, Gina Sirgent, Gilda Duran, Alicia Hanna, and by the time you‘re
reading this, Jasmine Brandl will also be released.

Lifers have been political
prisoners for years, but now we‘re marching to the beat of a different drum …
that drum is to the beat of Jerry Brown. He‘s letting the Parole Board do their
job and not second guessing their every decision. After all, that‘s why they
get paid over $100k a year plus benefits. Brown is not using the prisons for
human warehousing of lifers like his predecessors did. He‘s letting our prison
record speak for itself, and how ironic is it, that THAT is the law? A governor
that follows the law. What a concept!

It should be noted that the
recidivism rate for lifers released on parole, is less than 1%. We aren‘t the
problem. We aren‘t the ones incurring court costs, arrest fees, and all of
those secure transportation tabs. No, we‘re just doing time, trying to get out
of here, and watching that revolving door of parole violators. We are ready to
prove that it is completely possible to be released from captivity, adhere to a
productive role in society, and not violate parole. If anyone is gungho about
proving it, it is a lifer. All we need is a second chance. Just one second
chance. And believe me, we can do it. Whether sentenced to life in prison at
the tender age of 16 or 17 year old, or as an actual adult at age 25, we can do
this. The year 2011 has been just the beginning. We embrace the new year and
what 2012 has to offer. I‘m telling you folks, things are lookin‘ up!

 

Book Reports for BPH

The Parole Board has been very
open and welcoming for lifers doing and presenting book reports at their parole
hearings. They of course, are interested in any self-help topic such as
depression, suicide, domestic violence, varions forms of abuse, and so on.
They‘re particularly interested in any material related to the life crime. I‘m
fed up being on waiting lists for counseling, but never receiving any such
groups. So, I do book reports to fill that void. It at least demonstrates
effort towards self-help. The Board wants to see such an effort.

I created a Book Report form to
present a uniform presentation. Are you a lifer that needs a hand? Talk to me.

 

Why Do Lifer Support Letters
Need To Be Updated?

The average non-lifer parolee
usually doesn‘t have a job lined up before they are released. A good percentage
of them scramble for somewhere to live, if not crashing on a relative‘s couch
until they can. Not a single non-lifer parolee has to prove that they are a
changed person, have a job, a place to live, or the support of citizens in a
free societly. They do not have to have their transformation validated, let
alone documented. Maybe that‘s why they are more likely than lifers to return
to custody. Let‘s remember, lifers have less than a one percent recidivism
rate. Funny though, we‘re the ones who are constantly having to prove
ourselves. For years, it felt like a dress rehearsal for a dinner party that would
likely not happen. Things however, are looking‘ up!

Why must family and friends
write letters to support of a lifer‘s release? It is evidence that we have a
network of shoulders to lean up on and real people who see the value in us.
Allies are vital in any battle.

Why is one letter written in
2005 not still good in 2009 and 2012? Well, the Parole Board technically would
like to see letters updated every six months as a show of consistency and
solidarity in the lifer‘s personal relationships. It goes to demonstrate strong
ties and the likelihood that we may not be so antisocial after all.

Does it need to e an entirely
new letter each time? No, you can simply resubmit a previous letter with a
current date. However, should the prisoner have any additional achievement that
have been acquired since the date of last letter, such as counseling,
vocational training, GED, college courses and whatnot, it is imperative to
include that as an appendage to the existing document.

The more letters a lifer
receives for each parole hearing, the more elevated their chances of a parole
grant.

 

Recently Asked Questions

Q:  Is Valley
State Prison going to house men instead of women?

A:  It appears
that the rumors are true, although Sacramento Big Wigs are steadily denying any
such plans. The local community agreed to a women‘s prison, but not a men‘s
prison. The Supreme Court ruling mandated that the state reduce their prison
population, so in an attempt to comply, VSP will be closed to females by or
before May 2013. To reduce male prison population without excessive early
releases, it is likely that VSp will house anywhere from two to three thousand
male prisoners. Sacramento however is denying it as local residents have
participated in very public opposition.

Q:  Is there an
Assembly or Senate Bill to reduce lifers sentences?

A:  That is a
verbal rumor that has yet to produce any documented proof from the Bill Room at
the state capitol. So, it is safe and best to say that NO such bill exists. I‘d
be more than happy to be proven wrong with clear documentation.

Q:  Is there a
hold on money orders now, like on personal checks?

A:  Yes,
thanks to some fraudulent individuals, there is a 30 day hold on all money
orders and checks. The only monetary contributions to an inmate‘s account that
goes straigth through and is accessible to spend within 2-3 days of
transaction, is an electronic financial transfer from your credit card. All you
need is our first and last name, booking number, and internet access to either
Jpay.com or inmatedeposits.com. all donations are welcomed and appreciated.

Q:  To correct
the horrors of your institutionally prepared meals, is it not possible to
arrange a surprise Health Dept. visit?

A:  No, for
security reasons (or excuses of convenience), all such on grounds visits must
be pre-arranged. That allows officials time to cover the truth, present a
facade, and pass all tests.

Q:  Will CCWF
be serving holiday meals Thanksgiving and Christmas?

A:  Yes, it‘s
actually two of the best meals all year long. It may not be like at home, and
we won‘t have the company of the ones we prefer to be with, but we will be
surrounded by some pretty darn good people, so can‘t complain too much.

 

What It‘s Like

At least once in the last few
years, each of us has heard somebody else say, „But you don‘t know what it‘s
like to be me!“ It is true that we may not know what it is like to be the next
person, but in the same breath, they do not know what it is like to be us. We
may be able to have empathy for one another, and in some situations, to relate
to given experiences and remarkable circumstances, but what is it like to be a
lifer? How many people want to grow up to aspire to go to prison and become a
lifer? The high school yearbook has a title caption for Most Likely To Succed,
but not Most Likely To Go To Prison, let alone be a lifer. It‘s just not
rational.

So, what is it like to be a
lifer? Well, to begin with, you have to wonder who your true friends are once
you‘re sentenced and all of those high hopes of freedom are dashed. The reality
is that it is easy to be a friend when the world around you  is good, but who is really willing to stand
in the rain and be your umbrella? Who won‘t care that the mail carrier sees
that they receive malil stamped in bold print that it is being sent from a
prisoner? One of society‘s misfits? Who is left when the crowds and media are
gone, and is willing to keep the lines of communication open? After all, life
can be busy and hectic, so if you‘re worth 15-30 minutes of their time to write
even a one page note or simply sign a card, count yourself richly blessed. I‘m
telling you folks, you want to know who your friends are? Just get arrested.
Want to know who your true friends are? Receiving a life sentence will deliver
a sober and lucid message like none other. Anyone can be a fair weather friend,
but it takes effort and loyalty to be a true friend.

As the years pass away, a lifer
will have seen dozens times of roommates filter through their cell like water
through a seive. We see a multitude of faces, hear a myriad of ficitious
stories, and get lost in the countless names – far too many to remember. Almost
all of my cellies over the years have had five years or less to serve, and
nearly all said that this was their last trip. At least 2/3 of them whined
about their sentence and whimpered over how much they miss their children –
children being raised either by other family members or the court system. They
are all boo-hooing, „My babies, my babies, I miss my babies!“ Not everyone
comes back, but when those same prisoners violate parole, you gotta ask, „what
about your babies now?“ As a lifer, we hear a lot of B.S. and the manifestation
of well spoken promises that equate to broken hearts of innocent children. I‘m
not judging them, I‘m just saying … we wish we had that chance. Non-lifers
make us wish we could swap sentences and show those repeat offenders how it is
done. Recidivism can be erased, and we‘re the ones to prove it possible. Nearly
every life term prisoner is a first offender. All any of us wants is a second
chance. And we would certainly make the most of it.

If it‘s not the parade of parole
violators or the phony stories about the make-believe houses that they have in
the free world (while they‘re on indigent status here), it is the day-in,
day-out monotony that gets tiring. Wake up, go to work or shcool, return to
your unit at day‘s end, and occupy your mind and time. How you occupy that time
is a matter of choice. Most of us are doing whatever we have to do to get out
of here, which includes, but is not limited to, group networking such as 12
steps meetings or going to the law library. Some are working on college
courses, while others are finding themselves in various church services. A
lifer doesn‘t just do the time, they do productive time. We want it to count
for something other than the resulting punishment for violating society‘s
mores.

You may not know this, but
many-a-lifer honestly lives with a sincere balance of remorse and regret. We
must live each day knowing that because of our actions, there is another who
does not. Speaking for myself, I still see flashes and still frames of that
horrid New Year‘s Eve when I killed my stepfather. There are fragments of
memory still missing, but I remember enough to grasp the realization that he‘s
not alive because of me. Not because of his actions, but because I chose to
stand up to him to protect my mother. And trust and believe, about the week
before New Year‘s Eve, I‘ll go through anxiety and experience nervous energy
and guild-ridden restlessness. It‘s pretty much an anniversary thing. I believe
a good many lifers go through this when the anniversary of their own crime
comes around. It reminds us that we‘re human, and that we have a conscience …
and we pray that you never know what it is like to live with lifer‘s guilt and
regret. If you do not know how it feels, we can honestly say that you don‘t
know what it is like to be us. That‘s a good thing.

While we live with our choices
and pray for the family and friends who lost a loved one, we also take great
efforts to find ourselves. I‘ve done more growing up in prison than I ever did
in my freedom days. It has a lot to do with letting go of my personal baggage
and looking beneath the temporary bandage I placed over the open wound that my life
really had become. I let down walls of denial, I finally looked into the mirror
at my reflection, and changed course. I needed to cease whishing I had a better
past and just accept that I could have a brighter future. It sounds so simple
when I word it like that, but it took years of self-help recovery and a
dedication to change the way I thought. Any educated person will tell you that
life is a matter of perspective, but what about when you‘re looking through
someone else‘s eyes? All of those self-help gurus really can teach you a fresh
way to view things. An open mind is an amazing thing. Many of us may have
arrived here with a chip on our shoulders or a protective shield put up, but
time can fade that as maturity kicks in. We grow, we learn what self-absorbed
pain blinded us from seeing, and we develop into better people that we‘d like
to call a friend.

So, what is it like to be a
lifer? Well, you wake up each day knowing it won‘t be much more different than
the last, but you face it with hope. You feel the burden of not being with your
family on the holidays – or any other day, and you know there are hearts broken
because of this. The average lifer harbors emotional turbulents that only they
can put into words, but the lack of any real therapy in this facility causes
them to turn to the only ones who really understand them: other lifers, a
kindred of sorts. What is it like to be a lifer? We watch parolees leaving
everyday who don‘t have to have a parole plan, while we struggle to obtain
housing and employment from behind these walls. We watch people leave through
the revolving door of recidivism, and we have no guarantee of when we will
leave, but we do have hope. I believe it is hope that keeps me striving, and
faith that keeps me sane, otherwise this experience would have driven me crazy
by now.

„You don‘t know what it is like
to be me,“ is something you should be grateful for.

What is it like to be a lifer?
I‘ll tell you, it‘s not easy, but we‘re doing the best that we can. The truth
of the matter is, we couldn‘t possibly do it without you. You are our lifeline.
You mean everything to us. It‘s not as easy course to sail, but it‘s a whole
lot easier knowing that after the storm, you‘ll be there on the solid ground of
the shore to welcome us home. What more could a lifer ask for? I‘m telling you
folks, you make all the difference, and we love you!

 

A Letter To God

Dear God,

When it comes to thanking You,
where do I begin? I know, believe, and accept that nothing is possible without
You. That no matter what the situation, Your hand is in it. So, where does a
girl begin?

Thank You, and I truly mean
that, for my mother, I would have gladly sacrificed my many other gifts
througout life just to have been blessed with her. You made certain that my
sister and I were protected from any harm by placing her in the role of
protector and mother, both synonymous of each other. So I guess if I begin
anywhere, infancy is a good place to do so.

When I was at Kaiser Hospital at
the age of two, turning blue in my mom‘s arms and the nurse told her to wait
her turn in the waiting room with the other people, thank You for putting that
Mama Bear growl into her. I‘m not lucky I survived that both of spinal
meninitis … I was blessed. I was blessed by mom‘s being adamant that I be
seen and saved, and by Your hand that mercifully brought me back from the brink
of jeopardy. Thank You.

I didn‘t realize in the fourth
grade that it was Your doing that I was more intellectually advanced than the
other kids. I didn‘t quite understand why I kept completing my work too
quickly, or how I came to write poetry at age nine, but I did. Thank You for
Mrs. Halverson and the dictionary and thesaurus. It wasn‘t easy being the
abnormal fourth and fifth grader, the odd one out, but I sure am grateful now.
I promise to put what You‘ve blessed me with to good use in positive and
productive ways.

I remember that day on the dock
at the San Leandro Marina … You know the one. I think that is when I was at
my darkest, most desolate place in my life. I‘ve never returned to that abyss
since. I don‘t even know how to swim. It would‘ve been all over for me had I
jumped into that dark, cold water. In the pounding rain without a soul in
sight, I was moments from complete forfeit, when You whispered into my ear,
„You really don‘t want to die yet … you just don‘t want to live the life that
you are living. It gets better, so get up and go home.“ It took awhile before
it got better, but of course You were right. Thank You for the soft wisper that
saved my life. I never felt that alone since.

Do You remember that day on
Palameras Canyon Road? Of course You do! That was a close call! I guess I
wasn‘t alone after all, and I don‘t mean You, I mean him. Whoever that sinister looking guy was that came over
the ridge from the creek bed. When I peeled dust out of there and saw him in my
rear view mirror coming towards my tailgate, I knew in an instant that it was
You that warned me. Some call it sixth sense or intuition, but either way, You
put it there. Thank You.

You seem to have had to come to
my rescue several times now that I look back on my life. I kept my Guardian
Angel busy, huh? You kept extricating me from what would have been an early demise,
because You had plans for me. Plans I could never have imagined. You crossed my
path with so many others that I otherwise would not have had the privilege of
meeting. Every connection I‘ve made has had purpose and life lessons to teach
me. You‘ve had me be both student and teacher, and it has been an honor.
Somehow, Thank You seems somewhat insufficient, but it is all I have to offer,
for You already have my heart … so thank You, God … Thank You.

I know that I‘m still a work in
progress and that there is much You still ask of me. Please, use me as a tool
and vessel at Your will. Take the gift of words you‘ve blessed me with and
guide me to where and how You wish me to put it to instrumental use. I don‘t
know the plans You have in store for me, but I have faith in Jeremiah 29:11, so
hey, I‘m waiting. I have so much to be thankful for, including friends and
their loving support, and my aunt and uncle in Long Beach that haven‘t forsaken
us. I can never thank You enough. Never.

We‘ll talk again real soon.

Your Loving Daughter

Teresa
Christine

 

Skilled Nursing Facility?
… Yeah, Right!

If you were a patient at a
hospital that showed visible signs of uncleanliness that could lead to
cross-contamination and quite possibly MRSA, staph infection, and God knows
what else, would you discharge yourself from that hospital to go to a more
sanitary one?

If you were left unattended to
lie in soiled bedding because the nursing staff didn‘t adequately check on you
in timely intervals on a schedule of rounds, would you call for a nurse? Would
you feel like you were inconveniencing them? If the nurses simply could not be
bothered, would you elect to leave that hospital for a more sustained one?

If you answered in the
affirmative to those questions, please imagine that you are an inmate at the
Paris-Lamb Hospital, which is the infirmary here at CCWF. They have the nerve
to call it a Skilled Nursing Facility. There are dozens of patients on a
regular basis that are subjected to medical neglect and conditions that can be
lead to disabling, if not deadly contaminants. There are those who live in
daily humiliation and degradation, who cannot find a voice to speak out. They
fear retaliatory action that could only result in their situation worsening. I
have tried for over a year now to find someone brave enough to speak out. I
will change the names of the patients, nurses, and my source to protect their
identities and privacy (and retaliation). What you are about to read,
unfortunately, is all too true.

 

TC:  For this
interview, I‘ll refer to you as Bobbi. What makes you a reliable source to
speak out about the inhumane medical treatment at Paris-Lamb Hospital at CCWF?

Bobbi:  I
am assigned to work at the so-called Skilled Nursing Facility. I went to shool
twice a week to be trained in how to be a housekeeping porter there. I also
received hands-on training. I see a lot that goes unreported.

TC:  Are you
certified in this work?

Bobbi:
Yes, as a specialist in Housekeeping and Janitorial.

TC:  What are
some of your duties?

Bobbi:  To
prevent cross-contamination of diseases, high levels of bacteria, and cleaning
the patient‘s rooms, crisis center, Administrative offices and soforth.

TC:  What would
you say is your most important rule there?

Bobbi:
Acting as if everything is exemplary of a five star hospital. Putting on
a show whenever the Warden or Sacramento Big Shots come to do a walk-through.
Other porters and myself have to go through great efforts to make the odor of
urine and feces diminish with overpowering scented cleaners.

TC:  Urine and
feces?

Bobbi:
There is a check-in paper on each patient‘s door that states the patient
was checked on by a nurse in 15 minute interval walk-throughs. But, when you go
to their room to see if they need their linen changed, the smell of an outhouse
hits you in the face! The check sheets are all lies. If the nurse really did
check on the inmate, why did she not stop to get clean linen on that bed? Why?
Because they don‘t care. It‘s nothing more than a paycheck. The inmate patients
are nothing but job security to them.

TC:  Is it your
job to assist the patients?

Bobbi:
No, I was told not to. I was warned that I could be fired for my acts of
humanity, but I do it anyway.

TC:  Give me an
example, would you?

Bobbi:
Okay … I heard Ms. Cason yelling for help one day, and nobody could be
bothered. She was a double-amputee that could not get to the toilet on her own
accord, so to help prevent her soiliing herself in her bed, I assisted her to
the toilet. There‘s also April, who is under weight and had a stroke. She needs
help to the toilet, and in certain times of desperation, she has managed to
somehow make it to the hallway with feces running down her legs, her nightgown
soaked, and sadly, even her hair.

TC:  Where are
the staff durin all of this?

Bobbi:  In
a lounge area without a care in the world.

TC:  Have
patients received flesh infections due to this?

Bobbi: Absolutely! The acid in the waste eats at
their flesh.

TC:  Let‘s say
April soiled herself – does she get bathed?

Bobbi:
I‘ve seen it more than once … the nurse will take a patient to the
shower without their shower shoes to protect their feet from the infectious
floor. I‘ve offered to go get them and the nurse will say that they themselves
were going to go retrieve them. Oh really? And leave the patient unattended in
the shower? I‘ve even had to go grab the patient‘ shower basket so they‘d
actually have soap to bathe as opposed to a simple rinse off.

TC:  That‘s
disgusting.

Bobbi:
Tell me about it. You know what else is disgusting? They wash the crisis
center gowns with the dirty mops in the same load of wash. And while you‘re
making faces, it gets worse … All soiled linen goes in a large garbage bag,
and by soiled I mean all bodily fluids like urine, feces, vomit, and blood.
Then the porters must reopen those bags and count all the items. It‘s horrid!

TC:  They
couldn‘t pay me enough to do that!

Bobbi:  If
you refuse to do it, that‘s a refusal to program that results in a CDC-115
write-up and punishment. Worse yet TC, you‘re a lifer. You can‘t afford to take
a 115 or a refusal to omply to authority, before the Parole Board. You would
have no choice. We are only inmates. We don‘t matter to the powers that be.

TC:
Aren‘t  they supposed to use yellow
and red bags? When I worked in laundry, we had yellow contamination bags.

Bobbi:  So
does the infirmary, but they must be part of the budget cuts because they throw
all the soiled stuff into regular trash liners and make us sort it all out.
You‘re supposed to use yellow water soluable bags that can be tossed directly
into the wash mashine in the bag, which breaks down with contact to water.
Bloody items go into red bags that only staff is supposed to handle.

TC:  And that
doesn‘t take place?

Bobbi:
Never. They just put it all together and wash it in one load. Nothing
gets destroyed.

TC:  Bloody
contaminants are routinely incinerated in a furnace at a real hospital.

Bobbi:
This isn‘t a real hospital.

 

This isn‘t a real hospital. It
is a hospital in name only. There are patients with bed sores from not being
turned over regularly. There are blind patients who hear the meal tray being
delivered and dropped off in front of them, but nobody tells them what is on
the tray, or what portion is what on the tray. Given the contamination in the
kitchens and infirmary, would you eat what you couldn‘t see without some level
of fear?

The sad truth is that there is
little that can be done to prove these human violations. Whenever the warden or
big shots plan to visit the facility, they need to make notification. That
allows the authoritarian figure heads to mandate that Bobbi and the others
clean house and make the staff look good. The place looks and smell clean, but
more than that, the patients suddenly receive adequate treatment, although only
temporarily. It is impossible to surprise attack the infirmary due to red tape
and policy protocols that prevent a true revelation from ever occurring. It‘s a
matter of self-preservation.

What we need, is for someone with
a real spin for the truth to pose as a patient at Paris-Lamb. Not even the
warden would be privy to the fact. Maybe a reporter who wants to do a real
investigative piece. The only way to see the truth, is to come to it. As strong
as my immune system is, even I‘m not brave enough to volunteer residency in the
infirmary. I‘ll report from a distance, not matter how disturbing the truth may
be. Sometimes, it‘s the only way to tell the world.

 

From The Heart

Many years ago, I began reciting
a different version of the Serenity Prayer that felt closer to my heart. The
word THINGS is changed to PEOPLE. The prayer goes like this:

Lord, grant me the serenity to
accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the
wisdom to know that it is me.

I did not come to prison to
change how others think, feel, or most certainly behave. As a matter of fact,
human behaviorism is an individual decision regardless of any exterior
influences. I came to prison as part of my life blueprint. This is a place of
soul searching and personal growth. It can also be a place of self-stagnation
for some. It is said that we need to think outside the box. I say, we need to
think outside of ourselves. While what others think of us is a variable in our
psyche, if we can think outside of ourselves and see through the eyes of
others, then and only then, are we capable to fully evaluate ourselves.

Self-evaluation has been a major
facet in the remolding of who I was, into who I have become. I used to be
self-absorbed in my own emotional turmoil from a past I had no control over. I
used to question my own value to the human race as a whole and where I fit into
the Master Plan. I once felt inadequate to speak up and be heard, yet I
developed a voice that not only spoke up, but spoke out against abuse and
violence. I metamorphosed from pain in the shadows harboring an open wound, to
an advocate for a good cause. I still self-evaluate myself on a regular basis,
but instead of looking for the bad, I look for the good. It is what you seek
that you will likely find.

Part of my growth process these
last 22 years, has involved self-inventory and evaluation. However, it has also
required both acceptance and tolerance … lots and lots of tolerance. While
this is truly a „house of healing“, there are still some diabolical
personalities in the mix no matter where you are in life. When I was a teenager
my mom made it clear that I would become whoever I hung with, so I made mostly
conservative decisions within my small circle. I still do that to this day.
After all, i am working on getting out of this camp. Any illogical choices
would be paradoxical to my design for freedom. So, I tolerate the intolerable
and insidious, while I embrace the genuine attributes of some of the most
wonderful women I‘ve ever had the privilege of knowing … yes even in a place
like this … especially in a place like this.

So, I say from the heart to you
… whether you‘re reading this on your computer screen or a hardcopy delivered
to you, you‘re pretty darn special to us. If somebody that we gave a copy of
this newsletter to has chosen to share it with you, then you‘re pretty darn
special to them, and they wanted to share that message with you. It makes no
difference your religious following, education, or the size of your bank
account, you have a major role in someone‘s life. I‘m grateful for every single
person in my life. Each of you has been a teacher, and I‘ll be a student till
my last breath. Regardless of what I have ever found in my self-evaluations or
the poor decisions I have made, you have stood by me. You have stood by my
mother. If another lifer is sharing this with you, you have stood by them. As
we continue to pursue betterment within ourselves, as we strive to come home,
we are grateful for you. So, when we say Happy Thanksgiving, please know it‘s
all about you.

Namasté

T.C.
& Mama ´P´

 

T.C. Paulinkonis                                                                                  Pauline
“Barbara” Paulinkonis

W45118 514-16-4U                                                                           W45120
514-16-41

PO
Box 1509                                                                                        PO
Box 1508

Chowchilla, CA 93610                                                                         Chowchilla,
CA 93610

Baha’i International Community calls for release of Christian pastor facing death sentence

GENEVA, 4 October 2011 (BWNS) – The Baha’i International Community has joined the call for the release of Youcef Nadarkhani, a Christian pastor from Rasht, Iran.

Pastor Nadarkhani, who is the father of two young children, leads a network of house churches. He was found guilty of apostasy – “turning his back on Islam” – and “converting Muslims to Christianity,” and sentenced to death in September 2010.

Iran’s Supreme Court recently asked for a re-examination of the case to establish whether or not he had been a practising Muslim adult before he converted to Christianity. The court ruled he was not but, nevertheless, is still guilty of apostasy because he has Muslim ancestry.

The case has sparked strong condemnation from governments, organizations and religious leaders around the world.

Then on 1 October, following this global outcry, Iranian state media suddenly reported that Pastor Nadarkhani had in fact been sentenced for other reasons – including violent crimes, extortion, Zionism and being a traitor. These charges had never once been mentioned throughout the entire period when Pastor Nadarkhani was charged, tried, sentenced, up to and including the most recent court hearing.

Statement from the Baha’i International Community:

We join with the global chorus of condemnation protesting the sentencing of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, and calling for his release.

For a court of law to rule against someone from Muslim ancestry who has freely chosen to be a Christian is yet another instance of the brutality being meted out by the Iranian authorities on their own people.

The recent public proclamation reporting that the charges against Pastor Nadarkhani have been changed – as a result of the global outcry at his conviction – only further exposes the arbitrary nature of decisions made by the judiciary system of Iran and the transparent injustice of the situation.

The sentence he faces is not only reprehensible; it is a violation of every legal, moral, spiritual and humanitarian standard.

Which temporal government in the world can reasonably decide it has the power to curtail freedom of belief? Belief is not something that can be taken away or bartered; it is a matter of conviction, of the heart, the mind and the soul, beyond the realm of any government’s control.

The Baha’i community understands well the challenging circumstances facing minorities living in Iran today. And now it is evident that those minorities which are nominally recognized by the state are as equally subordinate to the majority as those who have no rights.

There is little need to rehearse here the endless list of executions, torture, imprisonments, privations and other afflictions that are being meted out on the sorely-tried people of Iran.

Everything that country’s representatives profess on the world stage is contradicted by their treatment of their own people at home. Yet, its officials travel freely to other nations where they are offered a platform from which to broadcast their untruths, denying the callous treatment of their own citizens while displaying pretensions of good will for the people of the world.

There is much to be done to alert the people of the world to the hypocrisy of a government which is widely and continually oppressing its people.

There is much to be done for humanity to be alerted to what is going on inside Iran and to be awakened to the appalling memory of what can occur when we fail to act against state-sponsored, campaigns of hatred.

“To All” – A message from Troy Anthony Davis.

Below is the text of a Huffington Post article, with links to further
information

The Trials of an Educator in Iran
Anthony Vance, Director of External Affairs, Baha’is of the United States

“If your tea is too sweet, you can stir it the other way.” This kind of
quip was typical of Mahmoud Badavam and of Persian humor in general. I saw him
frequently as a college student in the mid-1970s in Cambridge,
Massachusetts where he gained a reputation for a quick, wry sense of humor. At that
time, Iranians were few and far between in the U.S. So, it was an eye-opener
to be exposed to the exquisite courtesy, humor, and hospitality that can be
so prevalent in Iranian culture and that certainly was not lacking among
the handful of Iranian students studying in universities in the Boston area
at the time. None of us suspected then that revolution in Iran was just
around the corner. With the large number of political and religious refugees
it would bring in its wake, exposure to Iranian culture would soon become
common place. But, at the time, Mahmoud and a small handful of others were
novel and made a deep impression on me. I met Mahmoud in Baha’i meetings — a
religious faith we both shared. He returned home just before the
revolution and chose, despite the difficulties it created for Baha’is, to stay.

On May 21 of this year and the days that followed, during raids on over 30
Baha’i homes in four cities in Iran, Mahmoud was one of 18 people arrested
for teaching in or administering the Baha’i Institute for Higher
Education. In late July, after the release of some of those arrested, Mahmoud and 7
others were reportedly charged with “conspiracy against national security”
and “conspiracy against the Islamic Republic” by “establishing the illegal
Baha’i Institute for Higher Education”. The first of the trials is
reportedly set to start this Monday, September 12. For years, he had used his
Masters degree in engineering from M.I.T. and his earlier training in Iran to
provide classroom instruction to Baha’i youth who had been barred since the
revolution from Iran’s system of higher education. The arrest on May 22 was
not his first. He returned to Iran in 1978, married shortly thereafter, and
held a job as an engineer in the government. Soon after the Islamic
Revolution, he was fired, lived with relatives in different cities, was arrested
for being a Baha’i and imprisoned for about three years.

In revolutionary Iran, among the many forms of persecution directed at
their community, Baha’is were dismissed from university teaching positions and
students were dismissed from institutions of higher education. After
numerous failed appeals to the government to correct this injustice, in 1987 the
Baha’i community organized what came to be known as the Baha’i Institute
for Higher Education to provide university-level instruction to its youth.
In recent years, BIHE was a central part of Mahmoud’s life with regular
classes in his small apartment in Tehran and administrative and curriculum
review meetings held late into the night. He spent most evenings and weekends
correcting homework and preparing for his classes. If planning with others
to educate young people can in some contorted worldview equate with
conspiracy against national security, I suppose Mahmoud and anyone else who has
ever transferred skills in the arts or sciences to a student is guilty as
charged — and unabashedly so. Over the years, others in Iran and abroad
learned about this endeavor and volunteered to assist with it.

Similar raids and arrests on BIHE were recorded in 1998, 2001, and 2002.
The official government position was documented in a 2006 letter from Iran’s
Ministry of Science, Research and Technology addressed to 81 state run
universities and institutions of higher education and in a 1991 Memorandum
signed by Dr. Seyyed Mohammad Golpaygani, the secretary of the Supreme
Revolutionary Cultural Council, with a signature endorsement of the Supreme
Leader, Ali Khamenei. Each of these documents specifically mandates the expulsion
from Iran’s system of higher education of any student who is discovered to
be a Baha’i.

The banning of Baha’is from higher education is a violation of the
International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights to which Iran is a
State Party. I hope that such a grievous assault on an entire minority
group consisting of about 300,000 people will not go unprotested by the world
community. In the meantime, from the bleakness of Evin Prison, far from the
beautiful summer to fall change of seasons in Cambridge, Massachusetts,
Mahmoud Badavam can only pray that some day he will get back to correcting
homework, preparing for classes, and perhaps even coming up with a new
witticism about tea from time to time.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anthony-vance/the-trials-of-an-educator_b_9546
42.html

http://iran.bahai.us/

The wheel of hours was going to be long, and would involve a lot of waiting, just like I’m waiting in this darkened Park Street Subway station, which smells of hot dust and urine, and feels like I am in the vestibule of death, when in reality, I am only on my way to Monday, my first day at a new job.

Reader, can I whine, can I have a plaintive voice. Think of my voice as wine dripping from my mouth and forming letters which complain, and my plaintiveness resembling old tin cup, which when I put my lips on it, curl back and reveal teeth, white, but tired, tired from having to live inside my mouth so long they’ve developed a lacework on their tips. Yeah, the bottom teeth with the dental hygienist said last week, “Oh you have such little teeth. How cute.”

Reader how are 73 year old teeth, the bottom once, which are white, which are precious few, and which are squeezed together as if bunching up in fear, “No don’t take me,” also have had the nerve to show delicate little edges, not smooth lines, and my teeth, I’m afraid are going on to a grey/gray, land of older, older woman, even though I still slash red lipstick on my lips which prune and pout as I ponder the bleak outside world where all the newscasters spewing yellowed print, green print, red print out of their mouths, quickly like blades of steel grass, and they all have opinions. About jobs. It’s about jobs, which is why dear Reader, my life is looking black, purple and I feel a shade coming down, as if it is sundown, and it’s only morning, but I’m off to my new job as photocopier for a law firm.

This law firm is on State Street, where years ago old men wore white spats over their shoes and women in clothe green felt hats, or grey felt, or any kind of felt, color it any way you want, hats, and these hats hid the obedient eyes focused on the rough, knobby cement, glanced at the brick exteriors of old Boston Buildings, spelled the ocean air coming up from the harbor or Harbah if you are a native, and scurried into buildings to be on time for the men they worked for, such as our leisurely white spatted gentlemen circumambulating the Boston Gardens.

This was our out, and it was a good one. Secretaries. Now there’s a word. Reader I once knew practices like Gregg Shorthand even though I took the college courses in high school, I was now and had been a Boston Clerical Girl for years.

Did I mention, at fifty-three I became “temping” later a word exalted to “freelancing,” all words pointing to don’t hire the older woman. Did I mention I wore black a lot, because it was cheap, and slenderizing, a word people don’t use any more. And did I mention I once had a life filled with magentas and yellows and starburst lemon, and grew flowers like the Iris, a delicately laced flower with deep purple hues, and I had dogs that were silky red with long hair, and small little beige squatty little dogs whose curl of tail was beyond creamy, beyond perfection?

But now, I live in the real world. Did I mention when I worked there were no pensions, no this, no that, no insuring one’s end of days with padding of the economic time. I had thought the legal world would protect me, because in the depression of yore legal secretaries found work. Teachers found work. But it is now 2011, and I must work because I could be one step from living in the streets. I will work until I’m 85, or until I can’t see the documents which will come in serried rank, page after page, and I will push, click, staple and fold, and somehow my creaking wheel of hours will end.

Subject: Total Moral Victory in the World’s Worst Prison Today (For Friends, the Public, as well as the Media)

Dearest Family and Friends:

The following is a vivid testimony to the ultimate moral, mental, and spiritual integrity, dignity, and destiny of the Baha’is and indeed of the entire human race:

Ever since the most unjust and undignified imprisonment some three years ago, without a single crime, of the most innocent, the pure, and the saintly Baha’i Leaders in Iran called Yaran, and their subsequent transfer from the Evin Prison to the most backward and unusually harsh prison of Rajaei Shahr where some 5000 topmost killers, drug dealers, and others are kept in clusters under sub-human conditions, despite the lack of food, toilet, sanitation, and basic subsistence conditions, despite the dirt, filth, and illness, in pitiful conditions themselves, the two saint Baha’i ladies Mahvash and Fariba, as with the other five in the men’s quarters, have by the power of their Faith managed to support and uplift the minds and hearts of their fellow pitiful prisoners by giving them their relentless and genuine loving support to the poorer, the more needy, and the more frail fellow prisoners, seeing no evil in any soul, finding and nurturing dignity even in such a man-forsaken hell, and by such genuine constant manifestations of loving kindness, tact, and wisdom, they have now won, as a testimony to human moral triumph, the hearts and minds and the respect of the entire company of these same so-called “criminal” fellow prisoners, despite the moribond conditions and with all forms of dangers to their own very lives!

Over the months, whenever by token of the only good modern-day miracle of cell phone in the prison yard it was made possible for me to hear several times from Fariba herself, and on the one and only occasion when I got the chance and was so blessed by Divine Destiny to visit the two most precious ladies from behind their prison cabins two months ago for one hour myself, as well as from other family members and even directly from prison guard, I heard myself how miraculously the dangerous killers and criminals had been overwhelmingly moved and transformed by the vivifying souls of these two saintly Ladies.

One can recall the moving poem by Mahvash which shook the world, who, amidst the extreme pains of her own, backed against the withered single pomegranate tree in the prison yard, contemplates how the entire burden of these soul-and-body tortured fellow prisoners and indeed all the down-trodden suffering women of the World are now on her shoulder.

I am still amazed how for the entire three years during the rare occasions she could talk on the phone at various times, I never heard Fariba’s voice even once tremble slightly except for joy, with full faith, complete optimism, and total jubilation, as if walking in the highest Paradise all these long suffering days and months and years.

I still recall the moving sharing lessons of Fariba relaying to me how she had found the single remaining hidden spot of beauty and purity in each and all of these worldly despised and abandoned souls. I remember when she described to me the miracle account of how the most feared gang leader of the prison mafia, despite the huge body, knife-cut and broken face and other fearsome features, shun by all other killers and criminals, had been so moved by our twin spiritual heronies over time that she had on one occasion when Fariba had to pass a toilet dirt mud which had become watery sludge after rain, with their prison-customary slippers, she saw Fariba from far and told her from the distance “Please wait, please wait, may your holy feet not be touched and smeared by these dirts”, then, throwing her own slippers bode and insisted Fariba to kindly step on her slippers and pass by the place lest she be mired. No such things happen in any deadly criminal prison anywhere in the world, specially not in any place similar to this Rajaei Shahar, where only for the mere sake of prolonging an already issued death sentence with formalities paperwork procedures, often the killer kills one more unfortunate and helpless person often at random in the prison, days prior to the execution.

I remember how once Fariba was so overjoyed to tell me how one of her friends, where a few had died mercilessly by swine flu and cast and treated like swines by prison authorities, had first completely given up strong drug addiction, only to replace it with super heavy cigarette addiction, then, by the loving care of our two Baha’i Ladies, day by day she had been reducing smooking to the last one cigarette per day. Fariba told me how that day, just a month ago, Fariba hugged that lady, and rather than insisting or requesting her to give up the final cigarette, only told here gently how much she loved her and was proud of her who despite her years of bad luck in life turning her into a despised criminal, she had obtained the positive hope, the will power, and the supreme determination to accomplish what so many others in the free world had failed to succeed despite all facilities, toos, and support. Fariba told me how the lady, now a close friend, immediately threw to the ground the last final cigarette, crushed it with her heels, and, cried and said: Today I finally give up this addiction for the sake of love of you, as I feel and know that some day I shall visit you in your home and tell you and show you the effect of the loving transformation you have affected and created in me and our many other fellow prison mates!

This is how a candle can shine like the torch, nay as the mid-day Sun, in the darkness of desolation, pessimism and hopelessness, and selfishness that has overshadowed the human society.

Now, I just spoke to Fariba few hours ago on the phone who called from the Rajaei Shahr Prison.

For your information, as the latest news, by tomorrow the two most precious angelic ladies, and the crowning pride of future human civilization will be transferred to the worst section of the Prison entitled “The Under-Ground Dungeon for the Worst of the Villains and Criminals”.

This latest panic move by a remorsely helpless oppressor signifies an entirely unparalled scenario in the World History ever, even up to the present date; that is, for the holy and saintly riligious prisoners of conscience to be once more exiled within the prison, one more tier down from the already terrible exiled Prison allocated for the worst of criminals, killers, and drug addicts to the lower degree underground dungeon for the most dangerous criminals amongst them, just becasue these two already grossly-wronged innocent Saint Lady Prisoners, while in the prison under sub-human conditions, have by their shear Faith and their most pure love and consistent un-conditional tireless and selfless caring actions have transformed the prison-hell into a moral and spiritual Paradise, by moving the souls, changing the hearts, educating the minds and rectifying the conducts of the worst criminals, killers, and drug addicts to such a degree as to empower on the one hand many to give up their severe drug addictions simply on their own free will and by natural encouragement they so lovingly received rather than by persuation and without the need to appeal to any medicine or doctors or tools, or force while against all odds in such deprived hell-prison, and on the other hand enable most others to repent and wash their hands and hearts away from all crimes, purely through the power of real love and by the intense natural free persuation of mind and transformation of heart solely affected via the dynamic power of example of the Twin Tahirih’s of the Time!

Fariba said today on the phone that despite the repeated public prison loudspeaker announcements and stern warnings for all prisoners to stay and shun away, and do not associate with the Baha’i prisoners, groups upon groups of prison ladies thronged and gathered around their cell these past three days, with tearful eyes and warm hugging arms and in a unified supreme array of moral support and expressions of reciprocal love and as spontaneous sign of total unified allegience by all prisoners to the Two Saint Ladies whom they have grown to know as Angels from Heaven stationed in this human hell of a notoriously fanatic and repressive unhumane and dark Regime. Even in the oppressors, the Baha’is see light and apply the transforming and healing power of Baha’ullah’s Revelation which is the Most Great Elixir to ultimately
apply the unifying panacea to the ailing body of the World of humanity and finally affect the evolutionary transformation by God’s Will to the entirety of humankind.

“God hath, likewise, as a bounty from His presence, abolished the concept of “uncleanness”, whereby divers things and peoples have been held to be impure. He, of a certainty, is the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Generous. Verily, all created things were immersed in the sea of purification when, on that first day of Ridván, We shed upon the whole of creation the splendours of Our most excellent Names and Our most exalted Attributes. This, verily, is a token of My loving providence, which hath encompassed all the worlds. Consort ye then with the followers of all religions, and proclaim ye the Cause of your Lord, the Most Compassionate; this is the very crown of deeds, if ye be of them who understand.” Baha’u’llah; Aqdas #75

Just hours ago, Fariba in most happy tone of voice told me that one of the miracles of the Supreme Manifestation of God, Baha’u’llah, is that to the degree He gives His loved ones sufferings for the sake of the mental and moral and spiritual education and upliftment of humanity in this dark age of the transition to the collective maturity of the entire human race, to a multiple degree of that He also bestows upon them true felicity, joy, and jubilation; and that how truly happy she is that she is going down to the underground dungeon, with no fear nor a bit concern for imminent interrogations and torture.

This, reminded me vividly of her hand-written letter to me some thirty years back, in 1982 or 1983, posted from Babolsar to Boston, when our dearly beloved martyrs had just ascended to the Abha Kingdom, how she wished to be like the example of the root of the Cause of God, that Divine Tree which is neither of the East nor of the West, whose roots are firm in the earth (dark, cold, wet, lowly soil of the earth as she described), so that its branches and fruits, us, the Baha’is and all the people of good will in the outside world, can overshadow and benefit the entire human kind. Surely that Divine Tree is growing to overshadow the entire human race, now that the roots are going deeprer inside the darkness of human soul in order to bring and apply the world-wide healing remedy of Baha’u’llah.

What a sublime drama in the human history!

Speechless in awe and admiration, I remain.

Ya Baha’u’l – Abha!
(Oh Thou The Most Glorious Glory!)

(name deleted for safety purposes)

To my beloved friends worldwide, please pray for these noble souls. Gratitude, immense gratitude. Love to All, Esther

Baha’i World News Service to me
show details 2:24 AM (6 hours ago)

Grave concern for safety of Iran’s imprisoned Baha’i leaders

NEW YORK, 15 February 2011 (BWNS) – Iran’s seven imprisoned Baha’i leaders have been transferred to more brutal sections of their prison complex.

In the case of the two Baha’i women, the circumstances of the move have raised concerns that it may have been orchestrated as a means of creating an insecure environment that threatens their lives.

The Baha’i International Community has learned that one of them – Fariba Kamalabadi – has already been physically threatened by inmates since being sent to the notorious Section 200 of Gohardasht Prison.

“Apparently, the atmosphere is highly charged in this section, and there is a great deal of tension and animosity among the inmates,” said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations.

Mrs. Kamalabadi was transferred to Section 200 on Saturday 12 February, along with Mahvash Sabet.

“It is difficult to be certain about the reason for the move,” said Ms. Dugal. “However we believe that, since their arrival at Gohardasht, the Baha’i women – despite their own extremely challenging situation – have nonetheless been a constant source of comfort and hope to other inmates. The prison authorities apparently became alarmed that the two women began to receive signs of respect from a growing number of prisoners. As a justification for the increased harsh treatment, the authorities accused the two of teaching the Baha’i Faith.”

Throughout their entire imprisonment, added Ms. Dugal, the two women have conducted themselves in a spirit of service to others. In early 2009, for example, they shared a cell at Evin prison with Iranian-Japanese-American journalist Roxana Saberi, who later wrote that they had helped her through her ordeal.

Last week, a general announcement was made to all prisoners that they were not to have any contact with the two Baha’i women. Undeterred, however, fellow inmates continued to seek them out.

“After the women were transferred, a number of prisoners made their way downstairs to visit them in their new quarters, despite efforts by the guards to restrain them,” said Ms. Dugal.

Mrs. Kamalabadi and Mrs. Sabet were told that – prior to the move – the inmates in Section 200 had been “warned” about them, she said.

Harsh and unsanitary conditions

The seven Baha’i leaders were sent to Gohardasht prison, 20 kilometers west of Tehran, in August last year. Having previously been incarcerated in Tehran’s Evin prison without charge for 20 months, they were accused of espionage and the establishment of an illegal administration among other allegations. All the charges were denied. After a brief trial, they were sentenced to 10 years in prison.

While Gohardasht is infamous for its harsh and unsanitary conditions, the Baha’i prisoners were at first kept segregated from some of the more violent elements at the complex. They also had relatively frequent access to outdoor exercise areas.

But over the past few weeks, all seven of them have been moved from the quarters they originally occupied into sections where conditions are much worse.

The five men were transferred three weeks ago to a wing set aside for political prisoners, known as Section 4, which is more crowded and reportedly under close surveillance. They are now suffering severe physical deprivations.

“Three of them are together in one cell, with the other two sharing another cell,” said Ms. Dugal. “There are two beds in each cell, so one of them has to sleep on the floor.”

“The inmates in this part of the prison are able to go outside for fresh air only at designated times, whereas previously they could do so whenever they wished,” said Ms. Dugal.

Appeal to governments

“In our open letter of 7 December 2010 to the head of Iran’s judiciary, we stressed that such an odious and degrading environment is unworthy of even the most dangerous criminals,” said Ms. Dugal.

“We say to the Iranian government once again – does it believe the principles of Islamic compassion and justice to be consistent with the imposition of such conditions on innocent citizens?”

“We continue to call upon governments and people of good-will throughout the world to take whatever action they can to impress upon the Iranian government that its actions are being watched, and that it will be held responsible for the safety of these and the more than 50 other Baha’is who are imprisoned throughout Iran,” said Ms. Dugal.

Dear All Out There – this newsletter is from TC Paulinkonis, and I have been corresponding with TC for 8 or so years. We met through the International Women’s Organization of Writers. She’s spunky, has integrity and I thought this letter important enough to put on my blog. Love to all, esther

The T.C. & Mama ´P´ Newsletter – 1st QTR, 2011

Dear Family of Friends,
As we face the beginning of a new year and hopefully changes towards a better tomorrow, you will notice a change or two to the format of this newsletter. While I have had no problem making my voice heard in regards to prison politics and select injustices within the system, I thought that it may be interesting to add a few more voices to the true intents of this quarterly report. There are other prisoners who have more knowledge in certain areas, and I thought, „Why not bring them on board?“ So, I did.
In this issue you will be introduced to Liz Lozano, who at the age of 16 was sentenced to die in prison. I am appalled by the fact that our legal system is locking kids away with ridiculously lengthy adult sentences, including LWOP, which is Life Without the Possibility of Parole. Pretty much a detach sentence without the lethal injection. With new focus on legislation to provide those kids at least half a chance as a second chance, I wanted to dedicate attention on the subject. So, I invited Liz, who as both a writer and a jubenile offender sentenced as an adult, is the perfect candidate to take on this issue in each future issue, beginning with this one.
I have invited another prisoner to address healthcare service and the aging inmate population and their concerns. I hope to intoduce her in the next issue, as she was working on a piece about breast cancer when we had to go to press.
This newsletter is intented to address concerns, answer questions, and provide updates and relative knowledge. If you have any ideas to improve it, please feel free to share your thoughts. After all, it is for you, the reader.
May this be a good year, with a new governor, and opportunities for all of us on our paths.
Namasté
T.C. and Mama ´P´

Please Help Free Molly Kilgore
A couple of issues back, I requested support letters to be sent to Molly Kilgore‘s counselor to be shared with the Parole Board. Now, I need fo ryou to do something very simple. I‘m going to write a sample letter below that I‘m requesting each of you in turn write, copy, whatever … just get it mailed off to Governor Jerry Brown ASAP please. I‘ll let the letter speak for itself.

Dear Governor Brown,
I am wiritng on behalf of Molly Kilgore, W14177, currently incarcerated at C.C.W.F. in Chowchilla. Ms. Kilgore has served 32 years on a 7-years-to-life sentence. Like most young adults who received that sentence in the late 1970‘2, she was left with the impression that she‘d have been paroled long ago. It should be noted that not only did the courts recommend that she be released once already, but last year the BPH also found her suitable, only to have Governor Schwarzenegger reverse it. The BPH has once again found Ms. Kilgore suitable for parole at a January 12th hearing. I respectfully request that you support the panel‘s findings and grant the parole of Molly Kilgore.
Ms. Kilgore has a thick file of achievements, certificates, volunteerism, exceptional supervisor‘s reports, and extensive self-help participation in courses and groups alike. However, it is more imperative to point out that Ms. Kilgore has had 32 years to grow, change and gain personal insight into the full impact of her crime and victim, as well as the elements involved both directly and indirectly. She has been accepted by the crossroads re-entry program, and has made plans for a productive future that I hope you‘ll allow her to pursue. Please see relative decency in granting her parole in 2011.
Respectfully,
Your name & address
Send to: Governor Brown
State Capital Bldg.
Sacramento, CA 95814

A Second Chance
Where is a lifer to go if they have nowhere to parole to? That is a good question. I have an answer: Crossroads.
Crossroads is a long-term transitional housing program where newly released female parolees can learn how to readjust to life beyond prison walls. After a couple of decades in lock-up, one needs a re-entry program like this. It helps reduce culture shock and recidivism. They are taught substance abuse prevention and avoidance, education, life skills, and Crossroads also offers serious employment-related services. They even help you open a savings account to where you deposit at least ¾ of your paycheck to build up your own financial stability. At the end of yorur stay (about 6 months), you will be more suitable for once again becoming an independently responsible citizen.
Crossroads is ran by Sister Terry Dodge in Claremont, CA on October 26, 2010, she was one of five recipients of the Minerva Award, created by Maria Shriver in 2004. This award recognizes extraordinary legacies of service and contributions to California and the country. The other four recipients were Oprah, Sandra Day O‘ Connor, Carolyn Blaysek (who launched operation Gratitude to send personalized care packages to deployed soldiers), and Oral Lee Brown (who founded educational and financial support to at-risk school children). The Minerva Award winners receive $25k grants to further their work. First Lady Michelle Obama was amongst the many participants in The Women‘s Conference 2010, where the award was presented.
Mama ´P´has applied to Crossroads. This means that volunteers involved with the program will help write letters in support of her release to the Parole Board. They will tell the Board that not only do they have the perfect place for mom to parole to, but that they welcome her with open arms. It is next to impossible to line up a residence and employment plans from behind prison walls, but Crossroads is offering mom both at once. It is the perfect opportunity to help set her free.

Letters of Support Needed ASAP!
Mama ´P´and I are both soon to be scheduled on the calendar for a 2011 Parole Consideration Hearing. Mama in about November, myself in December. There is no way on God‘s green earth that the BPH will ever grant the both of us a release date in the same year, let alone one month apart. My #1 priority has always been that my mother be released first. She doesn‘t belong here. Therefore, while I‘m giving it serious consideration to waive my parole hearing again to take the spotlight off of myself, I‘m also advocating for her release. This is where you come in. I need your help.
If you can read this newsletter, then that means that you can write a letter. There are at least 60 people reading this. Every letter can make a difference. If everyone assumes that out of the other 59 people there will certainly be enough letters written, then we accomplish nothing. I want everyone to assume that NONE of the other 59 people are writing a letter, and start hitting the keyboard.
We aren‘t asking you for financial aid or housing to be promised in your letters. We are only asking that you point out mom‘s good record and clean C-file, and adamantly show support that the BPH allow her to parole to Crossroads. Your letter can include the following facts:
· How long you have known her
· The fact that she‘s been disciplinary-free her entire 21 years of incarceration, which is rare for a lifer
· Her volunteerism in the Sexual Abuse Awareness and prevention Workshops conducted within the prison‘s educational department (with emphasis on non-violent resolution)
· The fact that her dauther, Teresa, has gone on the record countless times accepting full responsibility for a crime that her mother neither committed, participated, or had any knowledge of until nine months after the fact, once they were arrested
· Include considering factors such as her age (she‘ll be 70 at time of hearing), deteriorating health, and the fact that it is costing California taxpayers over $80k a year to continue to imprison her
· You may want to include your personal feeling about what she has to offer society given her life experiences, and your thoughts on the injustice of a denial of parole
· Please include her current parole plans to go straight to Crossroads Re-entry Program directly from C.C.W.F.

There have been some of you who wanted to help in wirting a support letter, but just couldn‘t organize the words. I‘m about to help you with that be creating a sample letter. You can copy it, reword it, take parts of it to incoporate into your own letter, or simply use it as a guide. Whatever you do, please take this request seriously and write those letters and send to addresses below. Thank you!

Original to: Central California Women‘s Facility
Attn. CCI Burretta
P.O. Box 1501
Chowchilla, CA 93610

Copies to : Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati and Pauline (Barbara) Paulinkonis
Attn. Elisabeth Peterson W45120 514-16-4L
650 Page Mill Road P.O. Box 1508
Palo Alto, CA 9403 Chowchilla, CA 93610

Sample Letter To Support Parole Suitability
Dear Board of Parole Hearings,
Please allow me to address my concerns regarding the consideration of parole suitability for Pauline (Barbara) Paulinkonis, W45120, housed at C.C.W.F. 514-16-4L.
I have known Barbara for about (ten) years now, and given that her daughter, Teresa, has openly taken sole responsibility for the life crime (that Barbara only learned about after their arrest nine months later), it seems highly unjust to continue to keep her imprisoned for a crime she did not commit. She cannot be expected to make a false confession to seek her freedom.
While enrolled in the Sierra Vista Adult School, Barbara has completed two vocational training courses in Electronics and Graphic Arts. She was one unit shy of a completion in Upholstery when she was reassigned after an annual program review. She also completed courses in Parenting, Substance Abuse, Victim Impact Self-Awareness, and Breaking Barriers. Those courses provided insight into coping with anger management, cognitve awareness, communication, problem-solving, goal setting, victim impact and perception, healing & recovery, as well as resiliency and giving back to society. She added a second Parenting class to her resumé and has used her personal life experiences and traumas to volunteer in conducting dosens of workshops on sexual abuse and Domestic Violence Awareness/Prevention to promote healing options and non-violent resolution.
Barbara has remained disciplinary free her entire 21 years of incarceration. She would prove to be an asset to the many victims of abuse at vomen‘s shelters, where she hopes to commit to volunteer work. She has applied to Crossroads, a re-entry program that welcomes female lifers back into society with the structure to provide a second chance. I ask only that you too, give her that chance. Her prison record speaks for itself.
Respectfully,
Your name/address

Q & A With T.C.
Q: You often sign off letters & newsletter with Namasté. What does that mean?
A: NAMASTÉ is an ancient Sanskrit word that means this: The Divine light in me, greets and embraces the Devine light in you.
Q: What is a nexus in regards to parole suitability?
A: I‘ll use myself as an example. I have two disciplinary 115‘s for force and violence. The first was in 1993 against a bully classified as mutual combat. I couldn‘t just NOT stand up to her. The second was in 1998. That one was classified as a battery, a more serious charge. I didn‘t wait to get hit that time. I learned my lesson after receiving a concussion in the 1993 incident. In the latter, I knocked the other inmate‘s hand away from my face and shoved her backwards away from myself. I stepped away myself, not wanting to fight, however, by my knocking her hand away and her body away from me, I was found quilty of battery. This is where the Nexus comes in. Due to the fact that both 115‘s are directly related to violence (regardless of why), the BPH sees it as being the first place. That is the nexus. The connection. The legal grounds that the BPH will use to justify a denial of parole. They‘ll say the nexus proves that I still demonstrate a risk level of a threat to society.
Q: How does a lifer prepare for a Parole Hearing?
A: Technically, if you stay ready, you don‘t have to get ready. It helps to have all of your certificates, chronos for participation in groups and other commendable activities, Supervisor‘s reports, GED/Diploma, and letters of support all in a file and organized neatly. Many lifers go to their hearings unprepared. It takes months to prepare, not just the two weeks before the hearing.
Q: Are lifers required to relive their crime at the hearing?
A: No, not required. I‘ve done so at mine thus far. How will they know how I feel if I don‘t? Remorse is a vital key to true insight, and unless you can look at where you‘ve been and what you‘ve done, you can never truly do a personal inventory. However, at a certain point in hearing after hearing over the years, attorneys have stepped up and said to the panel, „we are not here to discuss the life crime itself, but the woman who committed that crime.“ In other words, your prison record, behaviorism, achievements, and personal growth. After all, that is the real reason behind the hearing: Your progress.
Q: What happens if the BPH denies parole based upon irrational nexus or other excuse not justifiable?
A: In the event you‘re denied, you can file a Writ of Habeas Corpus, especially if the panel did not make a justifiably rational nexus as to why you CURRENTLY pose a risk of danger to society. All of the certificates, chronos and support letters you gathered in support of a favorable finding for a parole grant, can be included as exhibits for the writ.
Q: Can you please tell me again, what can I send in to you?
A: You mean besides all of your well wishes and good lovin‘? Sure, I‘m often asked this question due to the list getting misplaced or memory fading. Here is the list:
· 40 plain or embossed envelopes; white only, no colored envelopes or security type with print on inside of envelope.
· 20 postcards – picture type or postal embossed.
· 40 postage stamps maximum per mailing regardless of face value.
· 10 greeting cards with envelopes (white envelopes only). No musical or 3-D type.
· 4 writing tablets; white or yellow paper only.
· Up to 500 sheets of stationary paper (fancy & cute allowed).
· Money orders made payable to our full name and W#, or by credit card directly to our account via JPAY.com or WESTERN UNION. We receive it within 24 hours.

A Few Statistics To Chew On
· The number of women in prison has increased 800% within last three decades.
· 42% of incarcerated women never completed high school or earned GED.
· Two-thirds of women in prison are mothers.
· More than 147.000 minors have mothers in prison.
· 24% of incarcerated women are diagnosed with a mental illness.
· Most incarcerated womenwith a psychiatric disorder do not receive treatment.

A Simple „Thank You“
Mama ´P´ wishes to thank whomever has continued to anonymously subscribe her weekly issues of TV Guide. She‘s received it for years now, unaware of the person‘s identity. Your gift has made her TV planning schedule much more convenient, and she thanks you.

Quaker‘s Cancelled Stamps Mission
Since Brad Hathaway began the cancelled stamps project well over a decade ago, the Quaker‘s Friends Meetings have collected stamps of all shapes, sizes, values and countries. The stamps are sold to collectors, with the profits going to worthy causes that include third world countries that don‘t have fresh water to drink, let alone any medical clinics. Through the stamp project it has been possible to build a clinic in Kenya and provide the daily necessities to the needy that we all too often have taken for granted ….. like shoes, or mosquito nets, or food. The project has successfully collected nearly $80k in aid for those in need. Please make a difference. Keep sending me your cancelled stamps off of your mail, careful not to cut or damage the stamp. This is a never ending project. You may not know who you helped, but you‘ll know that you did.

Who Sentences Kids To Life In Prison?
Back in the early 1990‘s in the state of California, there were teenagers being sentenced as adults, and hardly anyone thought twice about it. I was delivered to CCWF in July 1992 unaware of the wave of juvenile offenders that would face the same fate as myself. In may cases, they were dealt a bigger blow than I was. And for some ridiculous reason, it was legal.
An onslaught of liberal legislators wanted to turn their tough on crime focus onto youth offenders. They argued for the passage of AB136, saying that it would only affect a small percentage of youths. In the state of California, in 1994 there were 234 arrests of youngsters between the ages of 14 and 16 for homicide. During that time, there was a rise in gang affiliated violence, but not all violence was gang violence. However, leave it to the Republicans to make it appear so.
After the enactment of AB136, future legislative sessions brought forth even more bills to make it all the more easier to try and sentence teenagers as adults. The list of juvenile offenses expanded to include everything from the penal code that could result in an adult prosecution. Futhermore, the burden of proof switched from the prosecutor to the defense team to show just cause why a juvenile offender should not be transferred from Juvenile Court to Criminal Court. Now, I had a Public Defender, so I know what it is like to have an attorney not fight for you. Imagine being 16 years old and having your fate int he hands of an attorney who just doesn‘t dive a damn. I can tell you, I have friends here at CCWF that don‘t have to imagine it. They are the victims of bad laws.
In March 2000, voters were asked to approve a ballot measure called „The Gang Violence and Juvenile Crime prevention Act.“ In ballot terms, it was Proposition 21, which rewrote over 50 pages of law related to the California Juvenile Justice System. This includes the decision to try juveniles as adults at the sole discretion of prosecutors without any judical review or hearing.
Prop 21 mandated secure confinement and stronger panalites for a wide range of violations, including vandalism. However, and this is scary, it clarified that juvenile offenses would count under the existing adult Three Strikes Law.
While it was the California District Attorneys Association that advocated for years a law such as Prop 21, Pete Wilson, the governor during this reign of madness embraced it. He made it a big part of his political agenda. He had his sights set on the White House, and his path looked positive, so of course corporate supporters jumped on his bandwagon to help the „Yes on 21“ campaign. They hoped for political favor down the road. Corporations like ARCO, UNOCAL 76, Pacific Gas & Electric, and Hilton Hotels all made a healthy $50k contribution. Chevron contributed $25k. It is not that these corporations wanted tougher laws against youthful offenders; they simply wanted to be in Wilson‘s back pocket if he made it to the White House. Once they were confronted by the public opposition, many withdrew their moral support, but their money was not refundable.
Once Wilson left office, Gray Davis became the new governor and continued to push for the passage of Prop 21. He had a little help from the CCPOA, the prison guard‘s union. They plopped down another healthy contribution of over two million dollars. For them, it is job security. In the big house, the more inmates , the better. It didn‘t really matter if they were kids or adults, just fill the beds!
Most voters do not research the propositions that they vote on. Many go according to the TV ads and press coverage. They thougth that Prop 21 was asking them to endorse a measure to prevent uvenile violence and street gangs. If they knew what it really ws, it would‘ve had less support. Opponents could not raise the big corporate dollars that governors can, and Prop 21 was passed by a large majority of voters. Most, knew not what they had done.
Adolescents, with their frequent cynicism, arrogance, sarcasm, and tough minded approach, may seem to have the analytical and formal thinking skills of a young adult, but neuroscience has proven that the opposite is true. They can be naive, overy sensitive to criticism, and have a lack of understanding to their own egocentric demeanor. At about the age of 14 or 15, they are begin making conclusions using deductive and inductive reasoning. Piaget described analytic thinking as „requiring a certain level of intellectual maturity, brain capacity, motivation, and practice.“ They are still developing impulse control, capacity to plan and strategize, and that doesn‘t include coping skills. When it comes to weighing risks and consequences, things such as personality, culture, and the given sitation, should all be taken into account! Risk taking behavior increases from age 11-18. The younger the youth is, the more serious their consequences of risk taking. A year in prison is far more detrimental to a 16 year old than a 40 year old. Why am I telling you all of this? Because these are the very individuals that Proposition 21 and AB136 focused on. They could have been your son, or daughter, sister, or brother. Heck, they could‘ve been you.
There are prisoners here with me at CCWF that were arrested as teenagers and tried as adults with adult sentences. At the ages of 16 and 17 years old, with no prior criminal history, they received life sentences. There are quite a few with LWOP – Life Without the Possibility of Parole. Who gives a kid a sentence to die in prison and throws away the key? I once read that it is easier to help a kid than to repair an adult. What were those judges thinking? When you give a youth 25, 35, 45 and 50 years to life, I gotta ask, „How do you sleep at night?“
There are over 200 individuals serving LWOP sentences in California prisons, that were basically sentenced to die in prison for crimes committed as juveniles. They weren‘t considered old enough to vote and in some cases, to even drive a car, yet same idiot decided they were competent to be treated as an adult once the DA had them in custody. One of those kids was Liz Lozano. I‘ve asked her to make a quarterly contribution to this newsletter as the voice for youthful offenders sentenced as adults. By joining forces, maybe we can get the word out there and get you involved too. All I‘m asking is that you keep an open mind, listen to the facts, look at the inhumane laws, and hopefully you‘ll agree that to lock up a kid and not give them a second chance is deemed cruel and unusual punishment. One bad decision as a juvenile should not constitute locking them up and throwing away the key. Please, read on, get involved, and be a spoke in the wheel of change …..

Youth Offenders Sentenced As Adults by Elizabeth Lozano
My name is Elizabeth Lozano, I’ve been incarcerated for 16 years here at CCWF. I’m serving a life without parole (LWOP) sentence for a crime that happened when I was 16 years old. I’m sentenced under the murder felony rule, a person convicted under the murder felony rule is not the one who physically committed the murder. The law does not require the person to know that a murder will take place or even that another participant is armed.
Approximately 227 youth have been sentenced to die in California’s prisons. They have not been sentenced to death: the death penalty was found unconstitutioal for juveniles by the United States Supreme Court in 2005. Instead, we have been sentenced to prison for the rest of our lives, with no opportunity for parole and no chance for release. Our crimes were committed when we were teenagers, yet we will die in prison. Remarkably, many of the adults who were codefendants and took their part in their crimes received lower sentences and will one day be released from prison. Youth LWOP is an effective death sentence carried out by the state slowly over a long period of years. In fact, most of us juveniles serving life sentences without any hope of ever being released feel it’s worse than death.
Neuroscience has found that teens continue to develop in ways particularly relevant to assessing criminal behavior and an individual’s ability to be rehabilitated. The focus on this discovery has been on teenagers’ limited comprehension of risk and consequences, and the inability to act with adult free will. Societies make decisions about what to weigh when determing culpability. California’s law as it stands now fails to take into consideration a person’s legal status as a child at the time of the crime. Those who cannot buy cigarettes or alcohol, sign a rental agreement, or vote are nevertheless considered culpable to the same degree as an adult. Experts say that even at 16 and 17, when compared with adults, juveniles on averages are more impulsive, aggressive, emotionally volatile, likely to take risk, reactive to stress, vulnerable to peer pressure, prone to focus on and overestimate short-term payoffs and underplay long term consequences, and likely to overlook alternative courses of action.
So why is our country so quick to throw away their youth??? In fall 2010, California had the opportunity to give youth sentenced to LWOP a second chance at life; a glimpse of hope, by supporting and passing SB399, a bill that would have resentenced LWOP youth to 25-to-life. Instead, legislation shot the bill down by TWO VOTES!! This bill was not a get out jail free card, it would have only let us get our sentence reduced to another life sentence, and even then we would have had to meet certain criteria to prove we deserved it. Today Senator Yee and other Senators that believe in us youth offenders changing have indroduced a new bill the same like SB399; it’s SB9. It would only have our cases reviewed by a judge who would make the decision to reduce our sentence or leave us at LWOP. To support SB9 or for more information please go to the Human Rights Watch web page: http://www.fairsentencingforyouth.org

Elizabeth Lozano
W65013 515-3-3L
P.O. Box 1508
Chowchilla, Ca 93610-1508

From The Heart
There are many of you that have told me time and again that you don’t know how I do it … this life sentence. You are amazed at my spirit and how I haven’t let the reality of my situation become an unbearable burden. While you’re amazed at me, I’m amazed at some of the women around me …..
There’s Liz, whom I already introduced to you. Imagine if she were your daughter or sister. Wouldn’t you be disappointed in the system? Okay, so that’s putting it lightly, but feel free to use whatever word you want, you know what I’m saying. If you met her, you’d be amazed at her spirit as well.
There’s Molly Kilgore, who let me tell you, has not let Arnold’s decision to make her prove herself suitable for parole yet again, deflate her good nature. She’s quick to smile and greet me and if I ever witnessed faith in anyone other than Deborah Peagler, I see it in Molly’s eyes. You’d be amazed by her as well.
Then there’s L.R. who has done everything that the Parole Board has asked of her. She’s jumped through all of their hoops, and they finally granted her a release date, only to have Arnold reverse it. Still, she holds her head up, she continues to help those in need, and she fights her fight to return home to Michigan one day. You’d love her spirit!
Oh, let’s not forget all of those kids forced to grow up in Youth Authority and State Prison having been sentenced as adults. Their strength and preserverence leaves me amazed. If you heard some of their stories, you’d be appalled by their sentences, but amazed by their adaptability, spirit, and maturity from the experience. I was almost one of them, and I quess that is why I’m so moved by their raw deal.
So, I say from the heart to you, get involved. I know this issue of the newsletter asked for support for Molly, mom and juvenile offenders, but I wouldn’t ask if my heart wasn’t in it. I ask only that you put yours into it too.
NAMASTÉ
T.C.

T.C. Paulinkonis Barbara Paulinkonis
W45118 514-16-4U W45120 514-16-4L
P.O. Box 1508 P.O. Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93610 Chowchilla, CA 93610

A minister friend sent this to me; thank goodness people are writing about this.

To: sightings@lists.uchicago.edu
Subject: *Sightings* 1/6/2011 – Iran’s Baha’i Minority Suffers Increasing Persecution

Sightings 1/6/2011

Iran’s Baha’i Minority Suffers Increasing Persecution
– Elise Auerbach

Seven leaders of Iran’s Baha’i community were sentenced to twenty years in prison by a Revolutionary Court in Tehran last August, a sentence that was reduced to ten years in September. They were convicted on serious but baseless charges including “espionage for Israel,” “insulting religious sanctities” and “propaganda against the system.” They had also been charged with ifsad fil arz or “corruption on earth.” These charges could have resulted in death sentences. The seven leaders were convicted after a trial that failed to adhere to international standards for fair trials.
The Baha’i faith was founded in Iran about 150 years ago. An estimated 300,000 Baha’is still live in Iran; they are Iran’s largest non-Muslim religious minority. Although Baha’is had faced persecution in Iran since the founding of the religion, their treatment grew worse after the Iranian Revolution. Since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in Iran, the Baha’i community has faced systematic persecution and harassment. While other minority religions such as Judaism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity are officially recognized (adherents of those religions having been deemed “People of the Book”), the Baha’i religion is not recognized in Iran’s Constitution and Baha’is are denied equal rights to education, employment and advancement in their jobs. Furthermore, they are not allowed to meet or hold religious ceremonies.

Worse forms of persecution have been committed against Iran’s Baha’i: More than 200 Baha’is were killed after the Iranian Revolution in 1979, after which a large number of Baha’is left Iran. The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran was disbanded in 1983 after the government outlawed all Baha’i administrative institutions. Since then the community’s needs have been met by the Yaran, or Friends, who are now responsible for the Baha’i community’s religious and administrative affairs.

Although persecution of the Baha’is abated in the 1990s, harassment has increased since President Ahmadinejad’s first election in 2005. According to the Baha’i International Community, there are currently 47 Baha’is in detention throughout Iran.

The Baha’i faith is considered heresy by hard-line clerics since it was founded in the mid-nineteenth century. Because it post-dates Islam, it is viewed as a repudiation of Islam. After the Iranian Revolution a “pure” form of Islamic government was established with the support of conservative clerics, which involved discrimination against adherents of more recently founded religions such as Baha’is. The clerics implemented punishments such as stoning and amputation. This theological “purity” is maintained by clerical hard-liners who are crucial allies of the current government.

The Baha’is are convenient scapegoats—the government points to the Baha’is as fomenting the post-election unrest. The Iranian authorities have also blamed the Baha’is, among other groups, for orchestrating much of the unrest that took place on the Shi’a religious observance of ‘Ashoura on 27 December 2009.

The religiously fraught charge of ifsad fil arz has been specifically used against the Baha’is, but another charge, moharebeh, or enmity against God, has been lodged at more and more people in the past year. It has been used to justify imposition of the death penalty for politically motivated “offenses.” Although it should only be used in cases where there is evidence of armed resistance against the government, the charge of moharebeh has been used against ethnic and linguistic minorities who advocate for greater cultural rights or who are otherwise politically active.

The persecution of Iran’s Baha’is—and specifically the harsh sentences imposed on the seven Yaran—has been roundly criticized by prominent figures the world over, including the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. His report of October 14, 2010 noted that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed deep concern over the absence of international observers and the lack of due process in the Baha’i leaders’ trial and that the criminal charges brought against the seven appeared to constitute a violation of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in particular those of freedom of religion and belief and freedom of expression and association. Despite the international condemnation, the Iranian authorities remain obdurate. In February a high-level delegation, led by Mohammad Javad Larijani, the Secretary-General of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights, defended Iran’s human rights record before the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva. Mr. Larijani insisted that no Baha’i is persecuted because of his or her Baha’i faith, but rather because of their engagement in illegal activities—completely evading the issue that perfectly legitimate activities or beliefs are construed as “illegal,” that the evidence for such “illegal” activities is generally non-existent, and that the legal procedures that try and convict people on such charges are woefully inadequate.

Elise Auerbach is the Iran country specialist for Amnesty International USA. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago.

———-

Sightings comes from the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Submissions policy

Sightings welcomes submissions of 500 to 750 words in length that seek to illuminate and interpret the intersections of religion and politics, art, science, business and education. Previous columns give a good indication of the topical range and tone for acceptable essays. The editor also encourages new approaches to current issues and events.

Attribution

Columns may be quoted or republished in full, with attribution to the author of the column, Sightings, and the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Contact information

Please send all inquiries, comments, and submissions to Shatha Almutawa, managing editor of Sightings, at DivSightings@gmail.com. Subscribe, unsubscribe, or manage your subscription at the Sightings subscription page. Too many emails? Receive Sightings as an RSS feed. Sign up at http://divinity.uchicago.edu/rss/sightings.xml.

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5704912-held-in-the-light” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”Held in the Light: Norman Morrison’s Sacrifice for Peace and His Family’s Journey of Healing” border=”0″ src=”http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1267801442m/5704912.jpg” /></a><a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5704912-held-in-the-light”>Held in the Light: Norman Morrison’s Sacrifice for Peace and His Family’s Journey of Healing</a> by <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2549270.Anne_Morrison_Welsh”>Anne Morrison Welsh</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/124189757″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
A friend returned from her summer at Chautauqua.  She grew up there as a child, and has spent most summers, if not all, of her life at Chautauqua. She said over dinner, “You must read this,” and it was Held in the Ligh, Norman Morrison’s sacrifice for Peace and His Family’s Journey of Healing.  The book is profound.  Norman Morrison’s were startling, but left this reader wondering, “did he stop a nuclear war,” and the results of his actions reverberate through time.  His wife writes with courage and empathy, and deals with compassionate but clearly observed love. The meaning of this man’s death had an astrounding impact on the Vietnamese, and of course his beloved family.  One cannot judge the act, as it is impossible.  What the pages reveal is the dilemma of a soul on a war torn planet, and his torment of the rapaciousness of war and its attendant evils.  A must read.  I have reference for his wife, his family, and him.
<br/><br/>
<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View all my reviews</a>

WAR PROFITEERING
2. VA, Prudential Made Secret Deal

Could this resonate as much as the Walter Reed scandal? Bloomberg
reports that since 1999, Prudential Financial Inc. has had a secret
agreement with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that allows it to
withhold lump-sum payments of life-insurance benefits to the family of
fallen soldiers – so that Prudential can invest that money and keep
whatever money it makes for itself. The arrangement was completely
secret for 10 years until it was put into writing in 2009. “Every
veteran I’ve spoken with is appalled at the brazen war profiteering by
Prudential,” says the executive director of Veterans for Common Sense.
Survivors who request lump-sum payments are sent “checkbooks” –
essentially, IOUs that aren’t insured by the FDIC – instead of actual
checks. Prudential makes eight times as much through the investments as
what it pays in interest to beneficiaries.

Read it at Bloomberg:
http://e.thedailybeast.com/a/tBMj9SLB7SwhTB8Us9YCayQbnuB/dail2
*************************************************************************

 

 Okay, Regarding Those Buildings in New York and Everything Else Ishkabibbly

 Was there really a person called Ish-ka-bibble?

 Listen you dweet, in my neighborhood on Wren Street, we knew the name ishkabibble, ‘cept we pronounced it ishhhkahhbibbble.  You know what I mean?  Anyone who listened to radio shows in the 40s knew words like that.  What’s more, my linguistic heritage, you dweet, thank you for asking, was on stuff like Baby Snooks, when she was surprised, and Baby Robespierre wasn’t screaming enough “wah, wah, wahs.”

Those “wah, wah, wahs were loud enuf to hit our pointed roof and bounce off gas lit street lights shining dimly on top of old Buicks and Studebakers (now there’s a vehicle – great ashtrays).  Where wuzz  I? My skill lay in imitating Baby Snooks, “Well, I’ll be a yellow-belled chuck wagon.”  Later in the 50s I went on to memorize the Drop of the Hat dialogue, from a play that ran in London and then New York for years.  Now when people ask about balances and present treasurer’s reports, as we so oft do in my young life, I think to myself in large white cloud-like puffy letters, “Many a Mickle Macks a Muckle.”

 Today,  there’s more than one rumble going on.  And because of this question Ishkabibble, and fighting over buildings and rights to worship and mudslinging both ways, another phrase comes to mind, “Come what, come may, time and the hour pass through the roughest day,” and that was a phrase from Hamlet which graced our walls with indigo, green and traces of yellow and magenta  threads on old white linen, framed with a thin black frame.

 There are so many interesting phrases in the world.  Get your mind off buildings.  Guys are all alike.  Start with blocks and where are you?  Ranting and raving about blocks, except now it’s buildings. 

 But that isn’t to say life was so much better in the olden days, olden meaning the 40s, 50s, and perhaps the 60s, cuz brotha, may I call you brotha dweet, good for who or whom?  I’m beginning to think that phrase, you know about a butterfly flying, or flapping — maybe baby just one wing — has repercussions in the next century. I can’t figure it out mathematically because I’m still trying to figure out how Doris got to Harvard Square by bike with pears and mayonnaise, and Dennis is on his way to West Hollywood with kiwi and crackers, and the  time, mileage thing and fight the despair they’ll never meet, even though they are soul mates, except for the fact that Doris does not like kiwi.

 I think there’s a wing of a butterfly in history called point of view.  Everything depends on point of view an English prof once said. Whose point of view?  Now there’s a handy little four word phrase and a dandy question at that. 

 What if the 50s were a great era?  Yeah for white guys who went to the Diner and ate skinny French fries loaded with salt, and didn’t go home, but grunted dialogue between each other, all the while, the white girls, their counterparts, were worried about “will he like me,” and “please God let me get married.” Down the road apiece in starkly structured architectural lines, invisible walls went up.  Walls so invisible and solid, people like Whitey Bulgur and some of the FBI could load drugs into the Boston projects, and blacks couldn’t move an inch, and they had to get on the elevated at some Station after Green street.  That’s when women were worthless if they weren’t married, and they had to wear veils to Catholic Church, for “bless me Mary, I’m a woman, and I’m sorry.”

 I think a lot of things were done under Imperialism, which some call skin color privilege, but nothing’s that starkly simple.  Hatred is awful in any sector. 

 I think the power boys behind the scene, don’t give a rat’s ass about where buildings are.  I think the power boys and girls want what they want and feel entitled.  I think blessed is the heart that listens to the midnight sighing of the poor, and I ain’t just whistling Dixie, or spitting mud, and this all comes from someone who used to seriously believe in Chicken Little falling from the sky.

 Maybe the sky is falling after all. Dunno.  Many a mickle macks a muckle.  Who knows? The Shadow, that’s who.  The Shadow knows, and if a Jungian read these fast flowing words going to goodness knows where, he/she might say, “Ah, the shadow.  And what is your shadow telling you”?  Words, love em, hate em, can’t live without em.

washingtonpost.com
Opinions » Follow Opinions On:
In Iran, shackling the Bahai torchbearers

By Roxana Saberi
Saturday, August 28, 2010

For several weeks last year, I shared a cell in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison with Mahvash Sabet and Fariba Kamalabadi, two leaders of Iran’s minority Bahai faith. I came to see them as my sisters, women whose only crimes were to peacefully practice their religion and resist pressure from their captors to compromise their principles. For this, apparently, they and five male colleagues were sentenced this month to 20 years in prison.

I had heard about Mahvash and Fariba before I met them. Other prisoners spoke of the two middle-aged mothers whose high spirits lifted the morale of fellow inmates.

The Bahai faith, thought to be the largest non-Muslim minority religion in Iran, originated in 19th-century Persia. It is based on the belief that the world will one day attain peace and unity. Iranian authorities consider it a heretical offshoot of Islam.

After I was transferred to their cell, I learned that Mahvash had been incarcerated for one year and Fariba for eight months. Each had spent half her detention in solitary confinement, during which time they were allowed almost no contact with their families and only the Koran to read. Recently the two had been permitted to have a pen. Oh, how they cherished it! But they were allowed to use it only to do Sudoku and crossword puzzles in the conservative newspapers the prison guards occasionally gave them.

Mahvash, Fariba and their five colleagues faced accusations that included spying for Israel, insulting religious sanctities and, later, “spreading corruption on earth.” All three could have resulted in the death penalty.

The Bahais denied these charges. Far from posing a threat to the Islamic regime, Mahvash and Fariba told me, Iran’s estimated 300,000 Bahais are nonviolent and politically impartial.

Despite the gravity of the accusations against them, Mahvash and Fariba had not once been allowed to see attorneys. Yet my cellmates’ spirits would not be broken, and they boosted mine. They taught me to, as they put it, turn challenges into opportunities — to make the most of difficult situations and to grow from adversity. We kept a daily routine, reading the books we were eventually allowed and discussing them; exercising in our small cell; and praying — they in their way, I in mine. They asked me to teach them English and were eager to learn vocabulary for shopping, cooking and traveling. They would use the new words one day, they told me, when they journeyed abroad. But the two women also said they never wanted to live overseas. They felt it their duty to serve not only Bahais but all Iranians.

Later, when I went on a hunger strike, Mahvash and Fariba washed my clothes by hand after I lost my energy and told me stories to keep my mind off my stomach. Their kindness and love gave me sustenance.

It pained me to leave them behind when I was freed in May 2009. I later heard that Mahvash, Fariba and their colleagues refused to make false confessions, as many political prisoners in Iran are pressured to do.

It was January when the Bahais’ trial began. This month, the same Iranian judge who had sentenced me to eight years in prison on a false charge of spying for the United States sentenced the Bahais to 20 years. The charges they were convicted of have not yet been reported.

Human rights advocates have said the trial was riddled with irregularities. The defendants were eventually allowed to see attorneys but only briefly. The lawyers were given only a few hours to examine the thousands of pages in the prosecution’s files. Early in the trial, state-run TV crews were present at what were supposed to be closed hearings. After the Bahais’ attorneys objected, family members were allowed to attend the hearings, but foreign diplomats were barred, and the only journalists permitted were with state-run media. It appears that no evidence was presented against the defendants.

As their lawyers appeal, Mahvash and Fariba sit in Rajai Shahr prison outside Tehran. Even Evin prison, cellmates told me last year, is preferable to Rajai Shahr. The facility is known for torture, unsanitary conditions and inadequate medical care for inmates, who include murderers, drug addicts and thieves.

While Iranian authorities deny that the regime discriminates against citizens for religious beliefs, the Bahai faith is not recognized under the Iranian constitution. The known persecution of many Bahais includes being fired from jobs and denied access to higher education, as well as cemetery desecration. (The Bahais created their own unofficial university, which Mahvash used to direct; Fariba earned a degree in psychology there.) In addition to the seven leaders, 44 other Bahais are in prisons in Iran, the Baha’i International Community reports.

People of many nations and faiths have called for the release of the Bahai leaders. But many more must speak out — such as by signing letters of support through Web sites such as United4Iran.com. Protests of these harsh sentences can make clear to authorities in Iran and elsewhere that they will be held accountable when they trample on human rights. Mahvash and Fariba occasionally hear news of this support, and it gives them strength to carry on, just as the international outcry against my imprisonment empowered me.

I know that despite what they have been through and what lies ahead, these women feel no hatred in their hearts. When I struggled not to despise my interrogators and the judge, Mahvash and Fariba told me they do not hate anyone, not even their captors.

We believe in love and compassion for humanity, they said, even for those who wrong us. Roxana Saberi, a journalist detained in Iran last year, is the author of “Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran.”

I just read an article this week about hormones in Monsanto’s food and a friend just sent this:

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 25th, 2010

Contact: Travis English, AGRA Watch
(206) 335-4405
Brenda Biddle, The Evergreen State College & AGRA Watch
(360) 878-7833
http://www.seattleglobaljustice.org/agra-watch

GATES FOUNDATION INVESTS IN MONSANTO
Both will profit at expense of small-scale African farmers

Seattle, WA – Farmers and civil society organizations around the world
are outraged by the recent discovery of further connections between the
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and agribusiness titan Monsanto. Last
week, a financial website published the Gates Foundation’s investment
portfolio, including 500,000 shares of Monsanto stock with an estimated
worth of $23.1 million purchased in the second quarter of 2010 (see the
filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission). This marks a
substantial increase from its previous holdings, valued at just over
$360,000 (see the Foundation’s 2008 990 Form).

“The Foundation’s direct investment in Monsanto is problematic on two
primary levels,” said Dr. Phil Bereano, University of Washington
Professor Emeritus and recognized expert on genetic engineering. “First,
Monsanto has a history of blatant disregard for the interests and well-
being of small farmers around the world, as well as an appalling
environmental track record. The strong connections to Monsanto cast
serious doubt on the Foundation’s heavy funding of agricultural
development in Africa and purported goal of alleviating poverty and
hunger among small-scale farmers. Second, this investment represents an
enormous conflict of interests.”

Monsanto has already negatively impacted agriculture in African
countries. For example, in South Africa in 2009, Monsanto’s genetically
modified maize failed to produce kernels and hundreds of farmers were
devastated. According to Mariam Mayet, environmental attorney and
director of the Africa Centre for Biosafety in Johannesburg, some
farmers suffered up to an 80% crop failure. While Monsanto compensated
the large-scale farmers to whom it directly sold the faulty product, it
gave nothing to the small-scale farmers to whom it had handed out free
sachets of seeds. “When the economic power of Gates is coupled with the
irresponsibility of Monsanto, the outlook for African smallholders is
not very promising,” said Mayet. Monsanto’s aggressive patenting
practices have also monopolized control over seed in ways that deny
farmers control over their own harvest, going so far as to sue–and
bankrupt–farmers for “patent infringement.”

News of the Foundation’s recent Monsanto investment has confirmed the
misgivings of many farmers and sustainable agriculture advocates in
Africa, among them the Kenya Biodiversity Coalition, who commented, “We
have long suspected that the founders of AGRA–the Bill and Melinda Gates
Foundation–had a long and more intimate affair with Monsanto.” Indeed,
according to Travis English, researcher with AGRA Watch, “The
Foundation’s ownership of Monsanto stock is emblematic of a deeper, more
long-standing involvement with the corporation, particularly in Africa.”
In 2008, AGRA Watch, a project of the Seattle-based organization
Community Alliance for Global Justice, uncovered many linkages between
the Foundation’s grantees and Monsanto. For example, some grantees (in
particular about 70% of grantees in Kenya) of the Alliance for a Green
Revolution in Africa (AGRA)–considered by the Foundation to be its
“African face”–work directly with Monsanto on agricultural development
projects. Other prominent links include high-level Foundation staff
members who were once senior officials for Monsanto, such as Rob Horsch,
formerly Monsanto Vice President of International Development
Partnerships and current Senior Program Officer of the Gates
Agricultural Development Program.

Transnational corporations like Monsanto have been key collaborators
with the Foundation and AGRA’s grantees in promoting the spread of
industrial agriculture on the continent. This model of production relies
on expensive inputs such as chemical fertilizers, genetically modified
seeds, and herbicides. Though this package represents enticing market
development opportunities for the private sector, many civil society
organizations contend it will lead to further displacement of farmers
from the land, an actual increase in hunger, and migration to already
swollen cities unable to provide employment opportunities. In the words
of a representative from the Kenya Biodiversity Coalition, “AGRA is
poison for our farming systems and livelihoods. Under the philanthropic
banner of greening agriculture, AGRA will eventually eat away what
little is left of sustainable small-scale farming in Africa.”

A 2008 report initiated by the World Bank and the UN, the International
Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for
Development (IAASTD), promotes alternative solutions to the problems of
hunger and poverty that emphasize their social and economic roots. The
IAASTD concluded that small-scale agroecological farming is more
suitable for the third world than the industrial agricultural model
favored by Gates and Monsanto. In a summary of the key findings of
IAASTD, the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) emphasizes
the report’s warning that “continued reliance on simplistic
technological fixes–including transgenic crops–will not reduce
persistent hunger and poverty and could exacerbate environmental
problems and worsen social inequity.” Furthermore, PANNA explains, “The
Assessment’s 21 key findings suggest that small-scale agroecological
farming may offer one of the best means to feed the hungry while
protecting the planet.”

The Gates Foundation has been challenged in the past for its
questionable investments; in 2007, the L.A. Times exposed the Foundation
for investing in its own grantees and for its “holdings in many
companies that have failed tests of social responsibility because of
environmental lapses, employment discrimination, disregard for worker
rights, or unethical practices.” The Times chastised the Foundation for
what it called “blind-eye investing,” with at least 41% of its assets
invested in “companies that countered the foundation’s charitable goals
or socially-concerned philosophy.”

Although the Foundation announced it would reassess its practices, it
decided to retain them. As reported by the L.A. Times, chief executive
of the Foundation Patty Stonesifer defended their investments, stating,
“It would be naïve…to think that changing the foundation’s investment
policy could stop the human suffering blamed on the practices of
companies in which it invests billions of dollars.” This decision is in
direct contradiction to the Foundation’s official “Investment
Philosophy”, which, according to its website, “defined areas in which
the endowment will not invest, such as companies whose profit model is
centrally tied to corporate activity that [Bill and Melinda] find
egregious. This is why the endowment does not invest in tobacco stocks.”

More recently, the Foundation has come under fire in its own hometown.
This week, 250 Seattle residents sent postcards expressing their concern
that the Foundation’s approach to agricultural development, rather than
reducing hunger as pledged, would instead “increase farmer debt, enrich
agribusiness corporations like Monsanto and Syngenta, degrade the
environment, and dispossess small farmers.” In addition to demanding
that the Foundation instead fund “socially and ecologically appropriate
practices determined locally by African farmers and scientists” and
support African food sovereignty, they urged the Foundation to cut all
ties to Monsanto and the biotechnology industry.

AGRA Watch, a program of Seattle-based Community Alliance for Global
Justice, supports African initiatives and programs that foster farmers’
self-determination and food sovereignty. AGRA Watch also supports public
engagement in fighting genetic engineering and exploitative agricultural
policies, and demands transparency and accountability on the part of the
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and AGRA.


GENET-forum

providing background information for the
European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

contact:
Hartmut MEYER (Mr)

phone……. +49-531-5168746
fax……… +49-531-5168747
email……. hartmut.meyer(*)genet-info.org
skype……. hartmut_meyer
url……… http://www.genet-info.or

Ana Etchenique
Vicepresidenta
Confederación de Consumidores y Usuarios – CECU
Mayor 45, 2º
28013 Madrid
91 364 13 84
619 955 277
fax 91 366 90 00
ana.e@cecu.es
anaetchenique@yahoo.es
http://www.cecu.es

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